ORLANDO, Fla. — In a dynamic gathering known as the State of Hospitality and Tourism Summit, Central Florida took center stage as community leaders, elected officials and industry experts convened to discuss the current economic impact and workforce trends.

What You Need To Know

  • According to a study, the total economic impact of Central Florida's hospitality industry in 2022 climbed to $87.6 billion

  • Nearly 450,000 hospitality and tourism jobs have been created because of the boom

  • This means that one in every three jobs in the region are in this field

The event, hosted at the DoubleTree at SeaWorld, provided a comprehensive look at the region's hospitality landscape.

The total economic impact of Central Florida's hospitality industry in 2022 soared to $87.6 billion, according to a collaborative study by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company. That marked a 31% increase from the previous year. This surge is indicative of the resilience and growth the industry has experienced, despite global challenges.

Visit Orlando reported a staggering 74 million visitors in 2022, showcasing a 25% increase compared to 2021. The destination's popularity has not only made it a hot spot for tourists but has also significantly contributed to the region's economic prosperity.

One of the most notable outcomes of the tourism boom is the creation of nearly 450,000 jobs. This surge translates to one in every three jobs in the region, underlining the industry's pivotal role in shaping Central Florida's employment landscape.

The summit, featuring a panel of industry leaders, delves into the challenges faced by the hospitality sector, discussing the current industry landscape and proposing solutions to ensure preparedness for future developments.

Monday, expected job growth was a focal point during the summit.

"The biggest thing is really making sure that whatever retention and recruitment strategies we have in place... that one size does not fit all," said Nilda Blanco with CareerSource of Central Florida.

Leaders say it's key to bring in students right out of college and to engage with young workers, like James Costa who is a part-time student at UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management and part-time barista at a hotel.

"With Disney being right down the road everybody's coming to Orlando," he said. "I can take what I learned in school and apply that to my work life."

The program Costa attends has grown from having 200 to almost 3,000 students.

"We understand we see that we have a tremendous need for talent in our industry," said Dr. Cynthia Mejia, the Interim Dean at UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “One of the issues that was brought up was a skills gap or a perception. A wrong perception of a skills gap that college students through their curriculum… don’t get industry experience.”

Some workforce trends also discussed Monday at the summit include skills over degrees, the use of AI and pay transparency and equity.