Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center Ready for Trade Show Resurgence

Frances Ferrante, Senior Editor
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Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center Ready for Trade Show Resurgence
The Orange County Convention Center’s spring and summer trade show-packed calendar will bring $123 million in estimated economic impact to hard-hit Orange County. Pictured: Orlando Boat Show

ORLANDO — Led by eight established sporting events expected to attract 95,760 projected guests, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) is making a comeback this spring and summer. After a long, hard year of COVID cancellations, more than 90% of Orlando hotels have reopened, Visit Orlando and the Center have rescheduled 47 cancelled conventions, and 73,900 lost jobs have been reinstated, said Casandra Matej, the new president and CEO of Visit Orlando, in a March 19 commentary in the Orlando Sentinel.

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“Our tourism-based economy provides us a long-term positive resource,” she said, “not only for economic benefits in good times, but also its ability to rebound after tough times — which is the phase we are in now.”

OCCC Kicks Off the Year in Style

The OCCC hit the ground running in 2021, kicking off the year with Surf Expo January 6-8. Then February 9-11 saw the collaboration of industry leaders Informa Markets, Clarion Events and Tarsus Group, who came together to produce MAGIC Pop Up Orlando, Womenswear in Nevada (WWIN) Orlando Showcase and OFFPRICE at the Center.

The event was guided by the AllSecure guidelines, a program developed in collaboration with industry associations, event organizers and venues that encompasses a detailed set of measures to maximize safety at trade events. The event had widened aisles, open-concept booths, temperature checkpoints and mandatory masks, as well as continuous sanitization and deep cleaning measures across all shows.

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During the weekend of March 6-7, the OCCC simultaneously hosted three sporting events, including a cheer and dance competition and two volleyball tournaments, with 43,750 attendees. At the Orlando Boat Show, held the same weekend, boat enthusiasts experienced 21 of Central Florida’s top dealers representing more than 70 manufacturers. Attendance was up 66% from the 2019 event.

Shows Relocate to Orlando

More than a dozen conventions have relocated to OCCC from other destinations, including Vision Expo East in June, the National Wood Flooring Association in July and ROOFCON 2021 Training Conference and Trade Show in September.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, the OCCC has hosted more than 60 events, and many were sporting events,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “We thank our partners for their continued confidence in our center.”

Reach Casandra Matej at Casandra.Matej@VisitOrlando.com or Mark Tester at mark.tester@occc.net