Conference & Meetings World September 2021 | Page 35

US Report

Orlando ready to rebloom for business

ow has your destination coped with the whole Covid situation to keep in the international spotlight for event organisers , including any virtual strategies ? Since the early stages of the pandemic , our role has been to unify the Orlando tourism industry . We ’ ve created pioneering new programmes , such as partnering with Orlando Health on a medical concierge programme for groups .
We hosted a virtual destination fam with hotels , theme parks , our airport and other destination partners to showcase our safety measures , which was well received by clients , with over 600 attendees . We ’ ve also developed a series of Virtual Site Visits for planners looking to host future events to share what ’ s new , and how they can create a memorable and safe event for their attendees .
What is the current state of reopening / restrictions on meetings and event business in your state ? Orlando has led the way in hosting live events since the start of the pandemic , including 100 at the Orange County Convention Center ( OCCC ) alone . The events have ranged in industry and size with everything from a veterinary conference that combined both in-person and virtual components to a youth volleyball tournament with more than 135,000 attendees across two weeks .
Orlando has a proven track record of hosting safe and healthy meetings . Orlando is home to a GBAC accredited OCCC , airport and several of our meetings-focused hotels also have the accreditation .
Currently , our local government leaders urge all residents and visitors to wear masks in indoor spaces , following
CDC guidelines . Orange County government employees , which includes the OCCC , will be required to become fully vaccinated and wear masks indoors .
What investments have been made in the events infrastructure in Orlando over this recent period ? The largest construction project in airport history is underway at Orlando International Airport , The South Terminal Complex . Phase one of the USD $ 3.82bn , multi-year project is expected to be substantially completed in the first quarter of 2022 . The project will add 15 gates and includes features such as interactive digital media , a stateof-the-art radio frequency baggage system , numerous shops , restaurants , lounge facilities and the Intermodal Terminal Facility ( ITF ), which is designed to accommodate up to three train systems , including the Brightline train with service to Miami .
What are the major attractions for international organisers
Below : Casandra Matej , president and CEO of Visit Orlando
considering Orlando as a destination for their conference and what of your events pipeline ? Orlando is the most visited destination in the US and has been ranked as the nation ’ s No . 1 meeting destination in the US by Cvent for six consecutive years . We have one of the largest convention centres in the US , which within the past year has added three studios to help execute the virtual elements in hybrid events .
There are more than 5,200 hotel rooms in four hotels connected to the OCCC . Overall , in our convention district , there are more than 45 hotels , 75-plus world-class restaurants and over 100 unique entertainment experiences within a two-mile radius .
As of 5 August , the OCCC has 52 contracted events through 31 December 2021 . In March , OCCC simultaneously hosted the fashion event trio of MAGIC Pop-up Orlando , OFFPRICE Orlando Market and WWIN Orlando Showcase , organised together by Informa Markets , Clarion Events and Tarsus Group . This three-day event was defined as an unqualified success by our organisers . Despite the pandemic , Orlando continues to open new hotel properties , and many have undergone significant renovations adding new meeting space .
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek opened in 2020 with 50,000 sq . ft of space . Walt Disney World Swan Reserve will open , 30 September , at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort complex adding 15,853 sq . ft . of meeting space including two new ballrooms and a rooftop space . The Caribe Royale Orlando completed a $ 125m renovation , including a new grand ballroom with 50,000 sq . ft . and Tru by Hilton Orlando Convention Center Area is a new addition to the convention district , located near the West Concourse of the OCCC .