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Orange County Tourist Development Tax Takes Historic Dive in March As Parks, Hotels Close for Coronavirus

Photo: Resi Kling
Photo: Resi Kling

The Orange County tourist development tax suffered the largest percentage and dollar drop in the history of the initiative in March. 

The money collected on rental accommodations supports the local tourism and arts and culture industries. 

More than thirteen million dollars might seem like a lot of money for the tourist development tax to rake in in March. 

But Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond says that number represents a 56.5 percent drop from the same time last year.

Diamond said he doesn’t expect the numbers in April to be any better until tourist attractions start opening up again. 

“That's something that's going to impact it is. How quickly do these theme parks open, how quickly do people start getting into airplanes again, how soon do people start traveling again?”

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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says that's why they're passing out hand sanitizer and face masks to businesses: it's only through these smart business practices that the region will be able to progress to phase two of recovery.

Demings said the PPE for Small Business in Orange County initiative has already received one million face masks to pass out to small businesses.

By Wednesday, they'll have a million more.

And he says the program is loosening its guidelines so that people who are self-employed can register to pick up the supplies at one of six distribution sites throughout the county. 

“So if you are self-employed and need PPE the terms have been changed to one or more employees but less than 44 part-time employees in order to qualify.”

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He said local government is working on a plan to distribute masks and hand sanitizer to individual residents at their nearest fire department. 

If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.