Despite rising gas prices and fewer airlines seats due to consolidation, the central Florida home to the state’s mega-theme parks saw continued gains in the number of visitors in December to Orlando and surrounding Orange County.

An 8% boost in international travelers in December helped push international traffic at Orlando up 9% for all of 2010, airport officials said last week.

That brought the total number of international passengers for the year to a record 3.2 million at Orlando International Airport, an increase of 267,978 passengers over the previous record set in 2009. Combined international and domestic passenger traffic was nearly 34.9 million for 2010, up 3.5% over 2009.

“Breaking through the three million passenger level for international travelers is a high point for Orlando International,” said airport executive director Phil Brown. “This indicates the appeal and value of the central Florida destination.”

The airport experienced a rebound in domestic travel in 2010, which was up nearly 3% over 2009.

Tourist tax revenue in December was $14.28 million or 15% higher than in the same month in 2009, according to Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie.

Fiscal year-to-date collections from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 were $40.7 million, up 16.7% over the same period in 2009, Haynie’s report showed.

“I am glad to report that the tourist development tax revenue continues to be a good news story,” she said.

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