Central Florida tourism brought $87.6 billion in economic impact last year: study

by | Aug 24, 2023

  • Central Florida’s tourism had a record economic impact of $87.6 billion last year, up 31 percent due to increased visitor spending, job creation, and tax revenue.
  • Visitor spending in 2022 rose by 38 percent to $55.5 billion, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by $7.5 billion, primarily in Orange County (85 percent), Osceola (12 percent), and Seminole (3 percent).
  • The tourism sector created almost 450,000 jobs (a 15 percent increase), accounting for 43 percent of Orange County jobs, 36 percent in Osceola, and 13 percent in Seminole. Visitor-related tax collection increased by $900 million, bringing households an average tax relief of $7,500.

Central Florida’s tourism generated an unprecedented economic impact of $87.6 billion last year — a 31 percent surge from the previous year due to increases in visitor spending, job creation, and state and local tax revenue.

A study conducted by Tourism Economics, a subsidiary of Oxford Economics, reveals that Central Florida saw a 38 percent upswing in visitor spending in 2022, reaching $55.5 billion and surpassing pre-pandemic levels by $7.5 billion. The spending was largely concentrated in Orange County, according to the study, with 85 percent of the total visitor expenditure, while Osceola and Seminole counties contributed 12 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

“The new data from Tourism Economics shows that the post-pandemic rebound of our region’s tourism industry tremendously benefitted our community,” said Casandra Matej, President and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Visitors are the economic driver for our region’s economy, creating jobs for residents and contributing billions of dollars in taxes collected for our local government.”

According to Visit Orlando, the post-pandemic tourism bounce back had a ripple effect on job creation, with the tourism and hospitality sector accounting for nearly 450,000 jobs, representing a 15 percent increase compared to 2021. This sector also played a significant employment role across the counties, constituting 43 percent of all jobs in Orange County, 36 percent in Osceola County, and 13 percent in Seminole County.

The counties additionally accounted for a $900 million increase in tax collection from visitor activities in 2022, translating to a cumulative total of $6.2 billion. Findings within the study show that, on average, households in the Central Florida region benefited from an estimated tax relief of $7,500 due to the contribution of the tourism sector.

“Increased tourism has also resulted in more than $26 billion in wages and benefits being paid to the hospitality workforce, which is a substantial increase year over year,” said Robert Agrusa, president and CEO of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association (CFHLA). “Locally, hospitality wages have now increased 27 percent since January 2018 and 19 percent since March of 2020, with over  68 percent of  our surveyed CFHLA lodging members boasting a starting wage of at  least  $15 per hour or higher. Hospitality and tourism is now the top employer as compared to other essential industries within the region.”

Data released by Visit Florida earlier this month indicated an increase in international visitors to the state, reaching the highest numbers recorded since 2019. Covering the initial two quarters of this year, the dataset shows a rise in overseas visitation by 21.8 percent and Canadian visitation by 81.1 percent when compared to the same period in 2022.

Between April and June 2023, Florida hosted a total of 33.1 million visitors. Of this total, 1.9 million came from overseas, while 846,000 visitors originated from Canada. Overall visitation thus far totaled 70.8 million visitors, reflecting a 1.3 percent increase over the initial half of 2022 and a 4.5 percent rise above pre-pandemic levels in 2019.


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