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ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – A certain boy wizard, a handful of dwarves and a couple of princes who came in the cold made the theme-park mecca of Orlando the most visited destination in the U.S. last year.
Tourism officials say more than 62 million people visited Orlando in 2014 – a new milestone for the U.S. tourism industry.
In a statement, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow called passing the mark of 60 million visitors a year “a significant achievement for Orlando and the U.S. travel industry.”
Officials with Orlando’s closest competitor in tourism numbers, New York City, said that while the Florida destination had more tourists overall, the Big Apple still was No. 1 with international visitors. Of New York City’s 56.4 million visitors last year, 12.2 million were from abroad. Orlando had about half as many international visitors.
“We congratulate them on those numbers,” said Chris Heywood, an official at NYC & Co., the city’s tourism marketing agency. “We’re thrilled to be the number one destination for international visitation. That is a market that stays longer and spends more money.”
Orlando tourism officials attributed the boom to renovations and expansions at the area’s many theme parks. Universal Orlando opened Diagon Alley, its second Harry Potter-themed attraction. Walt Disney World completed New Fantasyland.
Tourism officials said the visitors contributed $200 million in hotel tax collections for Orange County in 2014, also a record.
Visit Orlando calculated the visitor numbers using figures from the National Office of Travel and Tourism and two research firms: Smith Travel Research and DK Shifflet.
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