Visit Orlando is lucky the county commissioners stopped their budget cuts at $15 million. The tourism board still has $85 million to work with.
The marketing budget for one of the largest tourism boards in the U.S. is about to get a $15 million trim. The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal on Tuesday to reduce the amount of money that goes to Visit Orlando.
By a vote of 6 to 1, the county commissioner board approved a proposal to reallocate $15 million of tax funds from destination marketing to local projects.
For the 2025 fiscal year, the board will allocate $10 million to the Sport Incentive Fund and $5 million to arts and cultural projects.
In addition, commissioners will have a seat on Visit Orlando’s board of directors. They will also audit the destination marketing organization.
Orlando Tourism Marketing Cuts Could Have Been Deeper
Visit Orlando is relieved the cut stopped at $15 million. “Today was a successful step forward with our negotiations with Orange County around Visit Orlando and our funding,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando.
30% of the county’s tourist development tax revenue goes toward the board’s budget. The revenue comes from the 6% tax guests pay on their hotel and short-term rental room reservations.
Thanks to this funding model, Orlando’s tourism board has one of the largest marketing budgets in the U.S. For the 2024 fiscal year, it is projected to receive nearly $100 million. That exceeds Visit Florida’s $80 million budget.
Under the approved cut, Visit Orlando will have $85 million in tourist development tax funds for the 2025 fiscal year. Without the cut, Orlando would have had $100 million.
At a board meeting in November, commissioners floated ideas like capping the amount of funds that went to the tourism board. One commissioner proposed redirecting a share of tax collections from Visit Orlando toward local issues like affordable housing.
At the November meeting, Visit Orlando leaders and staff warned the commissioner board such cuts could lead to reduced advertising projects and scaled back international marketing.
“Many scenarios that would’ve carried deeper cuts or percentage decreases were explored,” said Matej. “We are pleased that wasn’t the outcome.”