by Lisa A. Grimaldi | May 11, 2018
Orlando welcomed a record 72 million visitors last year, making it the first U.S. destination to welcome more than 70 million annual visitors, according to Visit Orlando, the destination's convention and visitors bureau. The 2017 record is a more than 5 percent jump over 2016 figures. The announcement was made yesterday at a gathering of tourism and political leaders at Loews Sapphire Falls, where this video revealed the record.
 
"Our record-breaking year was achieved despite international headwinds and the statewide effects of Hurricane Irma," said Visit Orlando's president and CEO George Aguel in a statement about the achievement. "In 2017, our destination launched new consumer experiences on a significant scale, and our marketing efforts leveraged increasing consumer confidence in the United States. We also continued our focus on communicating the unique emotional connections visitors have with Orlando.
 
"Domestically, Visit Orlando recognized the potential of the country's growing positive economic indicators and increased marketing initiatives focused on U.S. audiences, with a special emphasis in the important Northeast region," Aguel continued. "Domestic visitation in 2017 grew to an all-time high of 65.86 million. Internationally, with several key markets facing uncertainties, Visit Orlando maintained its extensive marketing, brand and publicity programs to retain Orlando's leading position as a top international destination, with 6.15 million visitors.
 
"Looking ahead, with so many new developments throughout our destination, the region's No. 1 industry is poised to grow even stronger -- this year and well into the future. That, of course, is great news for everyone in Central Florida, where tourism supports one in three jobs and generates nearly $70 billion in annual economic impact."