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74 million tourists visited Orlando, Florida, almost reaching pre-pandemic levels

FILE - People visit the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., April 18, 2022. Ongoing strength at its theme parks and an improving streaming business propelled The Walt Disney Co. to higher profits and revenue in its fiscal second quarter in 2023. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — More than 74 million visitors came to the Orlando, Florida, area last year, a benchmark just short of pre-pandemic levels, tourism officials said Thursday.

The number of tourists was 25% greater than it was in 2021, when central Florida was still recovering from the blows to tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricted international travel and caused convention cancellations. The area's theme parks closed for several months in 2020 in an effort to stop the virus' spread.

“This past year proved to be a key recovery timeframe for Orlando’s tourism industry, with a lot of pent-up demand from our top US and international markets,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO for Visit Orlando, the area's tourism promotion organization.

The Orlando area had more than 69 million domestic visitors, with most of them visiting for vacations, a segment that has fully recovered, tourism officials said. Business visitors still lagged behind pre-pandemic levels.

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There were 4.9 million international tourists, making up only about three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels, according to Visit Orlando. The two biggest sources of international visitors were Canada and the United Kingdom.

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This story has been corrected to fix attribution in last paragraph to Visit Orlando instead of Visit Florida.