ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has cost Orange County tens of millions of dollars in revenue this fiscal year which runs from October to October.

What You Need To Know

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has cost Orange County tens of millions of dollars in revenue

  • Tax dollars this month are down nearly 70% compared to last year

  • In October 2019, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond projected the county would produce $300 million in tax revenue for the fiscal year

  • The county ended the year with only about $165 million in tax revenue

Tourism tax dollars are down nearly 70% this month compared to last year.

Orange County comptroller Phil Diamond says in October 2019 he projected the county would generate about $300 million in tourism tax dollars for the fiscal year. It ended with about $165 million. 

For 30 years Sandi Redmond has owned the Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows on I-Drive. She sees the same clue everyday suggesting to her business will remain slow.

“Just driving down I-Drive," Redmond said. "First of all you can drive down I-Drive, you don’t have to sit and slowly crawl along.” 

With the pandemic ongoing, she says she’s down about $800,000 this year. 

The county is down more than 40% themselves in tourism tax dollars for the fiscal year.

“That’s a huge decrease," Diamond said Monday.  "That is something I don’t think anyone would have anticipated.”

According to Redmond, before the pandemic began she would have about 11,000 people see her show a month. During the pandemic when she was open, it was more like 2,700.

Orange County generated $7 million dollars in tourism tax dollars this October, but thats a 69% decrease from this past October. No tourists means less revenue.

“You count the conventioneers as tourists too," Redmond ssaid. "You add that to it and the student travel groups from all over the country are tourists in that sense too.”

Diamond is hopeful when a vaccine is readily available tourism tax dollars will increase, but this pandemic has always come with a twist.

“The first doses are suppose to arrive and start to he used this month," Diamond said. "Before the vaccine gets out there it will be several months."

Like many small businesses in the county, they can’t wait that long.

“I’m not sure how quick the groups are going to come back," Redmond said. "We are making calls still to groups who have been to us.”

If they come back, then her problem, along with many others on I-Drive and in the county, will be solved.

Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows has been closed for two months, and will reopen this Friday. They have about 100 employees and Redmond said this is their last chance of keeping the business open, saying it’s now or never.