Orange County tourist tax still running 60% below normal

As Florida struggles to recover from the coronavirus crisis, the heart of the state’s tourism sector still ails badly.

Orange County reported Monday that its tourist development tax proceeds continue a steady rise from the near total collapse in the spring, yet the improvements are slow and the activity remains less than half of normal.

September’s receipts, marking the end off the county’s fiscal year, were 60% lower than September 2019. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond reported receipts of $7,037,700 for September. That compares with about $17.8 million collected in September, 2019.

September historically is the worst month for tourism, with the theme parks going into post-Labor Day back-to-school gear, and conventions not terribly popular.

The 2020 fiscal year had started off so well, with Orange County topping record amounts seen in each of the first five months, from October 2019 through February 2020. The coronavirus crisis hit in March, shutting down the tourist industry and scaring travelers. Orange County’s tourist taxes fell by half. In April, the county lost 97% of its tourist tax receipts compared with 2019.

Orange County collects far more tourist tax than any other county in Florida. Orange is rivaled nationally by very few places, such

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