City Walk Orlando – Memorial Day – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Kamira
According to AAA, Orlando is currently the number one travel destination in the country for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Most of the traveling tourists are expected to be from right here in Florida.
This year’s Memorial Day travels are not expected to break the record number of 2.3 million holiday weekend travelers in Florida that 2019 saw.
Visit Orlando reports that advance hotel bookings are pacing at 97 percent of 2019, with just under 2.2 million people expected to travel 50 miles or more from their homes.
Peter Sharma, the owner of Seasons Florida Resort, put the phenomenal Memorial Day weekend bookings of his Kissimmee hotel location in a few words: “It’s amazing. It is insane.”
The hotel, which has 120 rooms, is expected to be sold out at 100 percent capacity from Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30. When studying who is coming in from where, the majority are in-state travelers.
“We are primarily a Florida destination at the moment,” Sharma says.
Despite the high gas prices seen at the pump, AAA reports that over 9 out of 10 Memorial Day vacationers will drive to their destinations, meaning the in-state travelers Sharma will welcome is a completely new business stream he never expected.
The average price for a gallon of gas in Florida is currently $4.50. In 2021, the average price was $2.86 a gallon. In 2019, when Florida saw a spike in tourism, the average price was $2.60 a gallon.
In 2008, the previous record for a gallon of gas in Florida on Memorial Day weekend was $3.93.
The average cost of a mid-range hotel will go up 42 percent this year compared to last year.
The hotel owner says more than 50 percent of all of his hotel bookings in 2022 have been from in-state travelers.
“The primary reason we are here is because of Disney,” Sharma says from his Kissimmee hotel. “It is just so amazing that you come down on the weekend, you won’t find a parking spot here, and no, we did not think Florida state business would save us.”
Sharma has owned this hotel for over a decade. He reported that his best year was in 2019 when he racked in over $2 million in sales. In 2020, it was less than half a million dollars.
Sharma blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the decrease in sales.
This year, the Seasons Florida Resort is looking to make a major splash as it is currently on pace for a record year of $2.5 million in revenue.
“Yes, we were shut down for 13 months,” Sharma begins to explain. “We didn’t want to open it until we had decent-sized numbers. Now it is a different ball game altogether.”
In just a few months, Sharma has gone from devastating hits to his hotel to his business being sold out from overbooking.
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Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.