Visit Fort Worth plans expansion to grow tourism

Visit Fort Worth team poses with Mayor Betsy Price and T Bone Burnett

Y’all means all. And Fort Worth wants people to know that it welcomes y’all.

At its annual meeting on Feb. 14, Visit Fort Worth announced intentions to expand and stimulate further the growing tourism industry to make Fort Worth a destination city.

The plan calls for adding more physical spaces and experiences for visitors and convention-goers and supplying resources to creatives and artists who create unique vibes for the city.

“A vibe that attracts visitors,” said Bob Jameson, Visit Fort Worth president and CEO. “Visitors are looking for community cities that have an energy about them. Nothing puts forth that energy other than the active creation.”

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Visit Fort Worth unveiled a hip-hop tourism video, a diversity and inclusion marketing campaign and other initiatives to boost the city’s visitor economy at its 7th annual meeting on February 14.

The new video “Take Me Home” features music and lyrics by Lou CharLe$, along with scenes from 30 locations and 130 extras showcasing Fort Worth as a vibrant visitor destination. The video also features local musician Grady Spencer, the star of Visit Fort Worth’s “Things To Do” video released in 2017.

“Tourism is powered by the passion our local residents have for their city. This event is our chance to fire them up about the many reasons to invite their friends and business conventions to visit Fort Worth,” said Jameson.

“Take Me Home” is the centerpiece of a new marketing campaign inviting visitors to Discover the Modern West, from renovations in the Stockyards National Historic District to the nightlife of Sundance Square in downtown.

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A big feature of the campaign is a new web page “Discover Diverse Fort Worth,” a portal to blogs, videos and listings for events, restaurants and attractions from among the city’s rich fabric of cultural diversity.

Dickies Arena, which seats more than 10,000 people, opened in November and successfully held the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Various renovation and revitalization projects are currently underway at Historic Stockyards. Under new management, Sundance Square looks to activate the pavilion in new ways. Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum and the National Cowgirl Museum recently expanded with new exhibits and programs.

In harmony, all of these developments coupled with numerous others happening throughout the city is making tourists visit Fort Worth like never before, Jameson said.

According to figures from Visit Fort Worth, the tourism industry fetches about $2.6 billion annually in economic impact to Fort Worth.

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About 24,1000 workers are directly employed by the city’s tourism industry, which anticipates greeting 9.4 million out-of-town visitors this year, a 3.2% increase from last year – small, yet significant increment, nonetheless.

The spike in tourism is accompanied by other economic and demographic sector growths. At least a couple of big-name corporations have shifted their headquarters to Fort Worth in recent years, as the city inches closer to housing one million residents.

So, the premonition is that there may not be enough room to accommodate the incoming visitors.

“Today, we do not have enough space,” Jameson said. But Fort Worth is preparing to make more spaces, he added.

As an example, an expansion of the Fort Worth Convention Center is on the pipeline. The project is expected to increase exhibit space by 53,000 square feet, meeting room spaces by 23,000 square feet and add about 400 new convention hotel rooms and 500 new underground parking spaces.

Although in its early stages, Jameson said, a new sports complex particularly focused on soccer and lacrosse is also on the works.

“All we need is – simple enough – a 100 acres, few investors,” he said. “The reality is that early conversations about [a sports complex] have had quite a bit of support.”

Sports tourism has been under Fort Worth’s radar. The Fort Worth Sports Commission has booked about 75 various sports events for the year. The USA Gymnastics Championships 2020 and USA Table Tennis US Open Championship will be two of the major sporting highlights for the year.

“Fort Worth has always captured the imagination,” said Mitch Whitten, executive vice president at Visit Fort Worth. “A fort became a city. Cattle drives gave way to trains, plane and maybe even flying cars. Art has always been welcomed on the frontier. But, today it’s not just for cowboys. Today, we welcome visitors to discover the modern west.”

Keynote speaker and Fort Worth native T Bone Burnett talked about the importance of creativity in building community.

“Digital technology turns over every 10 years, but our art, if we do it right, will last forever,” said Burnett, American record producer, musician and songwriter.

Multiple Grammy and Oscar winner Joseph Henry “T Bone” Burnett is a producer, musician and songwriter who grew up in Fort Worth. Before his remarks, Burnett attended a reception celebrating the honorary renaming of St. Louis Ave in his name. Burnett was born in St. Louis, and the street is now home to Record Town, a music store that inspired him in his youth.

About 800 people attended the annual meeting on Friday. The event’s title sponsors were Fine Line Group, Henry S. Miller and Sundance Square. Pinnacle Bank was the presenting sponsor.