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Harry Potter: Hogwarts hero and hotelier?

’Tis the season for travel and tourism—and few cities will lure more Americans to its newest attraction this summer than Orlando, home to Mickey and Minnie, Donald, Goofy…and Harry Potter, Professor Dumbledore and their fellow Hogwarts wizards.

By Caroline Brooks | | @CarolineKBrooks


Universal Studios will open the gates to "Diagon Alley" in three weeks and Central Florida's economy, especially the hotel industry, is well prepared for the surge, Orlando's WFTV reported earlier this week.

Hotel research from JLL revealed that secondary markets witnessed some of the highest year-over-year hotel transactions between 2012 and 2013. Orlando's hotel transactions ranked among the very top, surging to $746 million in 2013, up an astonishing $622 million from 2012.

Diagon Alley is expected to boost those numbers even further, as "experts believe the new expansion will bring more people, who will pay for more flights, food, and hotel rooms," the Orlando station reported. The numbers will likely be even higher than the last Harry Potter park, which hosted more than 7 million visitors in just one year.

Image credit: Rob Young via Wikimedia Commons | cc-by-2.0

Smith's Travel Research for the first half of 2014 shows that year to date, Orlando's hotel occupancy is 3 percent higher than at this time in 2013. For all of 2013, occupancy rates were at their highest levels since 2000.

Orlando's initial hotel hotspot was sparked by a rise in business travel. "Primary markets saw the initial rebound in tourism and leisure travel. We're now seeing positive momentum in group and convention business travel to the secondary markets," said Lauro Ferroni, vice president of JLL Hotels & Hospitality.

Orlando's Orange County Convention Center, which hosts more than 200 events, attracts 1.5 million attendees and adds $2.1 billion to the local economy.

Tourist travel only adds to the hotel boom. "Leisure travel ties to consumer confidence and employment. People will travel if they have discretionary income to spend and are confident in their personal finances," Ferroni said

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