Home Travel Ready Or Not, Mega-Conventions Are Back In Orlando

Ready Or Not, Mega-Conventions Are Back In Orlando

by joeheg

I remember the moment in 2020 when people in Orlando knew things were getting real with COVID. It’s when large conventions and sports tournaments started canceling. Shortly thereafter the themeparks closed down. It all happened quickly and suddenly the tourist corridor around the Orange County Convention Center became a ghost town.

It took several months but the themeparks re-opened and the guests soon followed. Today, the Orlando parks feel as busy as they were back in 2019.

While leisure traffic is back and high school sporting teams are filling hotels, the one missing puzzle piece for Orlando is convention traffic.

For a while, the only uses our convention center had was for COVID testing and as a FEMA mass vaccination site. Not exactly the planned use for the space.

There have been events here and there but the MEGA-conventions were nowhere to be found until this week.

The International Home Builders Show is back.

This year the convention is expected to bring 50,000 visitors to Orlando. Besides being a boon to the local hotels, it also means extra business for restaurants with private events and visitors on expense accounts. I’m sure the Capital Grille next to the convention center is REALLY GLAD to see them back.

You might be thinking that of course, the convention is back because FLORI-DUH would be one of the only places to allow such an event in a pandemic. However, happily, despite the state’s lack of restrictions, the event has safety precautions aligned with CDC recommendations.

All registered attendees and exhibitors are required to provide:

  • Proof of a Negative COVID-19 Test Result administered no earlier than February 6, 2022. Details on testing can be found here.

If the individual is unable or unwilling to provide proof of a Negative COVID-19 Test Result:

  • Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination prior to entry will suffice. Details on vaccination can be found here.

In addition, all registered attendees and exhibitors are:

  • Required to wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status when riding on an Official Show Hotel, Home Tour, Parking and Intravenue Shuttle and when indoors at the OCCC from move-in through move-out and at other show related venues. Masks will be available in limited quantities if needed.

We’re two years in and know much more than we did in February 2020. We have very effective vaccines and testing is widely available, while sometimes hard to access. With the proper precautions in place, I’m glad to see that conventions are returning, as they were an essential part of the economic engine of Central Florida.

I’m worried if the service industry, which has been battered during the pandemic, will be ready. Every location in Orlando is hiring. Many smaller places closed, never to re-open. This many people in town at once could be overwhelming.

The event ran from February 8-10 at the Orange County Convention Center. I’m sure we’ll hear about how things went.

Cover Photo from Orange County Convention Center

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