Orange County has seen a tumble in its tourism tax dollars for a second month in row now, and that might well be a troubling trend.
For the first time since early 2021, Orange County has seen a decline in collection of hotel revenue taxes — also known as tourist development taxes, a 6 percent tax on the cost of a hotel room, home-sharing rental or other short-term lodging — for consecutive months.
Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond released the numbers on Thursday, demonstrating a clear drop.
May 2023 tax collections totaled $26.2 million (compared to $28.08 million in May 2022), while April 2023 tax collections totaled $33.6 million (compared to $34.86 in April 2022). The two-month downturn, the first since January and February 2021, ended a record streak of of 14 months of increases.
Tourist Development Tax Funds have been used by in the past by Orange County to pay for upgrades to venues such as the Convention Center, Camping World Stadium and the Dr. Phillips Center.
“It’s very volatile and it’s gonna go up and it’s gonna go down. You might remember I compared our TDT collections to a roller-coaster ride,” said Diamond of the dangers of relying on these taxes to be a consistent revenue stream, to the Orlando Sentinel. “I think people need to have realistic expectations about TDT.”
And anecdotally speaking, with stories continuing to drop about groups canceling planned conventions and events in Orlando — for example, the International Pole Convention and Con of Thrones — and the rollover effect that has on hotel reservations, this cooldown may very well continue, even as summer heats up.
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