The Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau has a new name, announced Feb. 28 at the organization’s fifth annual meeting at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel. While the legal name of the organization will not change, it’s public face will be Visit Fort Worth.
“Our mission is broader today, and that is why tourism organizations across the country have adopted new names like ours,” Bob Jameson, president and CEO, said the day after the meeting.
“There are more reasons than ever before to visit Fort Worth – conventions, sports, music, art, shopping, recreation, western heritage and more. We wanted a simple, easy-to-say name, and we chose one that is both an invitation and a call to action,” he said.
The move comes at a time when the agency has finished a 10-year plan called Destination: Fort Worth, the City of Fort Worth has completed work on its first ever economic development strategic plan, the Fort Chamber of Commerce in in the midst of reorganization as a result of its own strategic plan and Trinity Metro has completed a major master plan for its system.
All have the objective of raising the city’s profile and attracting more residents, visitors and businesses to Fort Worth.
“We are working more closely than ever with the city and the three chambers of commerce. We each have our own audiences and are finding common ground as we tailor messages for the many varied opportunities before us,” Jameson said. “We also see an opportunity to strategically bring conventions that support the city and chamber economic development goals in specific industries.”
Numbers released at the meeting show record growth in visitation, spending and jobs directly related to the Fort Worth tourism and hospitality industry.
In all, more than $23,000 jobs are supported by tourism fueled by 9.1 million visitors with an economic impact of $2.4 billion. Tourism creates $116 million in local tax revenue, which translates to $598 tax savings per household per year from taxes generated by tourism, the organization said.
“It’s a new day for tourism. The return on investment in the visitor economy is paying dividends for Fort Worth economically, with jobs and in making us more competitive.” Jameson said.
“An important focus of our master plan is on visitor facilities, including Dickies Arena and future opportunities to host more youth sports. We cannot let any grass grow under our feet in preparing for and eventually expanding the convention center,” Jameson said.
That’s a message he also delivered to the Fort Worth City Council at its work session Feb. 20.
Jameson called on the council to speed up work on the convention center and hotel, saying that since work was done about a decade ago, visitation to the city has risen 75 percent.
“It’s time to do it again,” he told council members. “The market is asking us to act.”
Visit Fort Worth says it’s new 10-year plan is a blueprint for ensuring Fort Worth is a must-visit city. The goal of the plan is to increase economic impact for tourism, create more jobs and raise the city’s profile to make Fort Worth event more competitive, the organization said.
The plan calls for action in five key areas: Enhance visitor experiences; strengthen messaging about Fort Worth; focus on visitor facility needs, specifically the Fort Worth Convention Center and a headquarters hotel in the area; support of transportation to increase connectivity; and collaboration with the city, local chambers of commerce and strategic partners.
Also announced at the annual meeting was that that Molly the Trolley would once again become free, thanks to subsidies from the Visit Fort Worth, Downtown Fort Worth Inc. and Sundance Square. Downtown hotels are also helping pay for the service, including the Omni, Worthington Renaissance, Sheraton, Hilton, Embassy Suites and Blackstone Courtyard.
“A part of Trinity Metro’s transportation master plan calls for circulators like Molly the Trolley and the proposed route to the Cultural District. Having complimentary transportation available in the convention district, especially connecting our guests to Sundance Square, is an important amenity to offer potential convention and conference planners,” Jameson said.
Trinity Metro says it costs about $1 million annually to operate Molly and the subsidies total nearly $136,800 annually to help offset some of that cost.
“We are excited to provide Molly service at no cost to customers, and we appreciate the participation of our community partners to make that happen,” said Paul Ballard, president and CEO of Trinity Metro. “Molly has always been a popular route for getting to the many downtown attractions.”
“Sundance Square is pleased to once again sponsor this service and provide rides to our customers and guests,” Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square, said in a statement. “For years this has been a very popular service for hotel guests who visit to easily move around downtown Fort Worth and enjoy everything Sundance Square has to offer.”
Rick Baumeister, chairman DFWI Board of Directors, shared that sentiment.
“We look forward to the increased ridership on Molly with this change in fare structure,” Baumeister said. “We are pleased to partner with the CVB, Sundance Square, downtown hotels and Trinity Metro to bring this valued service back to Downtown.”
At the annual meeting, Visit Fort Worth gave the 2018 Hospitality Award to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
The annual award honors a person, company or organization that has made significant contributions to developing, marketing and delivering visitor experiences to Fort Worth’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry. The award is a unique bronze sculpture of a man presenting a Shady Oak hat, a legendary sign of Fort Worth hospitality begun by the late Amon G. Carter.
– FWBP Staff
This report includes information from Trinity Metro and Visit Fort Worth news releases and from Business Press archives.