Orlando Tourist Development Tax Collections Show Weaker 2023 vs 2022 Travel Surge

    It’s not just Walt Disney World that is seeing lower attendance figures, it’s likely the local industry as well. In yesterday’s earnings report for Q1 2024 (Oct. ’23 – Dec. ’23), Disney reported lower attendance at Walt Disney World when compared to the year prior. That report was met with some skepticism from guests who said that they ran into crowds everywhere they turned, but it’s important to remember that your individual experience is not always representative of a trend. We try to stress that when we report on things like average wait times or seasonal crowds, but pointing to posted wait times doesn’t always convenience the masses. Enter, the Tourist Development Tax.

    The Tourist Development Tax is a tax on the total consideration that must be paid by the guest for the rental or lease of living quarters and accommodations in a hotel, motel, rooming house, trailer camp, condominium, apartment, multiple-unit structure, mobile home, trailer, single-family home, or any other sleeping accommodations that are rented for a period of six months or less. In short, the TDT is a 6% tax on your hotel/vacation rental when you visit Central Florida.

    The Tourist Development Tax is one of many indicators that experts look at when considering the health of the local tourism economy in Orlando. While locals certainly play a role like in any city, Orlando is a tourism city that relies on guests from all over the world to keep it afloat. That was exasperated during the COVID-19 shutdowns, and one of the reasons that local officials were so keen on Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and others to reopen in a safe, but quick manner.

    Therefore, the TDT collections can show trends in visitation that are directly related to the overall health of the tourism economy. The collections are reported monthly on a delayed cadence of just over a month. Yesterday, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond reported TDT collections for December 2023, and it seems to back up what Disney reported in terms of lower attendance when compared to 2022.

    TDT collections in December 2023 were down 4% year-over-year. That continues the trend of a softer 2023 when compared to 2022. In fact, since April 2023, only one month outperformed year-over-year comparisons (a 1% increase in Sept. 2023). That means that December is the eighth month out of the last nine months that saw a year-over-year decrease.

    So what’s happening to tourism in Orlando? According to a report from the Comptroller, “Orlando and Florida’s overall travel performance shifted and rebalanced in 2023 as the domestic leisure travel surge from 2022 faded as travelers returned to other U.S. and international destinations”.

    Remember when Disney said that attendance was down, but guest spending was up in late 2023? We see a similar trend in the TDT collections, with hotel occupancy figures dropping nearly a full percent, but the average daily rate of rooms increasing by nearly 4%. Another figure to keep in mind is that while year-over-year performance was down in 2023 vs 2022, raw collection figures were still up over 2019. Here’s a look at collection amounts going back to October 2019.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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