Visit Orlando just announced a record 66 million visitors to the region in 2015, up from 62 million visitors the year before and more than double the tourism numbers in the last 20 years. Clearly, tourism has a tremendous impact on the Orlando region. The industry generates millions of dollars worth of local property taxes, increases school tax revenues, and supports tens of thousands of workers.
But beyond the obvious direct impacts, tourism greatly enhances Orlando's infrastructure and quality of life for residents. For example, Orlando is currently investing more than $15 billion in transportation infrastructure, competitive products and quality of life features which would otherwise not be possible. Here's how:
- Enhanced air travel options, at a reduced cost. Because of our thriving tourism industry, Orlando offers more than 175 direct flights from its three international airports. And the price for airfare is greatly reduced, too.
- Seaports. Port Canaveral (the world's only quadramodal port) and the Atlantic Ocean are within a 45 minute-drive and the Port of Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico is only an hour away, putting European, North American and South American markets at our gateway.
- Roads and Rail. On land, Orlando sits at the crossroads of Florida's highway network, serving as a hub for distribution. Ultimate I-4 is currently undergoing a $2.3 billion overhaul. SunRail, the region's commuter rail system, runs 31 miles from Volusia to Orange County and will eventually connect 61 miles into Osceola County. Also forthcoming is the Brightline train connecting Miami to Orlando. All of that connectivity is invaluable for business.
- Vibrant arts and culture. Named the second most creative city in America, Orlando’s innovation through our theme parks has spilled over into the surrounding community, making this a haven for artists and performers. The entertainment options are endless – including a state-of-the-art Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando Ballet, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Florida Film Festival, Zora Neale Hurston Festival and Orlando Fringe Festival. The Orlando Museum of Art, Broadway Across America: Orlando, Orlando’s Shakespeare Theater, Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Osceola Center for the Arts, the historic Garden Theatre and Morse Museum are among the multitude of artistic outlets in Orlando for the creative and cultured from across the world to appreciate.
- Sports and recreation hub. Named both a best city for an active lifestyle and a top city for recreation, Orlando has countless races, marathons and triathlons, more than 100 top-rated golf courses and miles and miles of walking and cycling trails. Olympic athletes train here (National Training Center), professional rodeos are hosted here (Professional Rodeo and Cowboys Association Rodeo) and veteran service members from around the world compete here (International Invictus Games). Home to some of the best bass fishing, waterskiing and wakeboarding, Orlando is also the United States Tennis Association's "New Home for American Tennis." And all of that before mentioning Orlando's professional sports teams - NBA's Orlando Magic, MLS' Orlando City Lions, NWSL's Orlando Pride, ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears, AFL's Orlando Predators - as well as multiple annual college football and bowl games.
- Thriving culinary scene. Orlando has celebrity-owned restaurants, top-rated cuisine and eateries for every taste. Whether it’s exotic, gourmet or comfort food, there is something for every dining distinction in Orlando. And with more than 5,000 restaurants, Orlando’s dining options read like a world map as visitors from all over the globe can find a taste of home here. And we have the awards to prove it with a high concentration of James Beard Nominated/Affiliated Chefs/Restaurants; AAA Five Diamond and AAA Four Diamond restaurants.
- A shopper's paradise. Orlando’s retail offerings are vast enough to fill 900 American football fields and include two of the top 10 highest sales-generating shopping locations in the U.S. – the Mall at Millenia and the Orlando Premium Outlets. More shopping can be found along Winter Park’s upscale Park Avenue, Ivanhoe Row’s antique shops just north of downtown Orlando and in Mount Dora, Kissimmee and Sanford’s unique retail districts. The region’s top tourist attractions offer their own international presence to satisfy residents and visitors alike at Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk.