Fifty years ago Fort Worth leaders created an organization to focus on attracting visitors to this city “where the West begins.” Consider the dividends we realize today from this visitor economy:
• More than 6.5 million visitors come to Fort Worth each year.
• Visitors support more than 14,000 jobs.
• The number of visitors has grown 20 percent in the past five years, strengthened by new reasons to visit, by the growing allure of Fort Worth and by routes to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
• The economic impact of visitor spending, on meetings, conventions and leisure, has topped $1.6 billion annually.
• Related hotel and sales taxes collected support city services, saving the average Fort Worth household an estimated $840 each year in tax relief.
May 2-10 is National Travel and Tourism Week, a time to draw attention to the benefits Fort Worth reaps from its investment in promoting the city to visitors. Our job at the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau is to attract visitors and encourage them to spend time and money. We help make cash registers ring.
And they are ringing louder than ever. In fact, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is the top tourism destination in the state.
During this National Travel and Tourism Week, we want to say thank you with a free concert. Join us Thursday, May 7, at the Party in the Plaza, 5-7 p.m. in Sundance Square. (Learn more at fortworth.com/may7)
A growing number of visitors from outside the state and from abroad are discovering Fort Worth. Last year Yahoo Travel named us one of the most underrated destinations, saying, “This city is unpretentious, laid-back and charismatic in all the right ways.”
Closer to home, we are becoming a weekend getaway of choice, with our rich music, culinary and recreation scenes. As one influential writer said, “Fort Worth is every right-thinking Texan’s home away from home.”
There are so many stories to share with the world, more than I ever imagined when I moved here 30 years ago. We broadcast these to prospective visitors and meeting planners, showcasing what has been the result of visionary investment in Fort Worth:
• Three decades ago a group led by Holt Hickman saved the Stockyards National Historic District, which will grow even further with more investment and development.
• The arts have flourished here for more than 100 years, intensified in the last 60 years with continuous investment in collections and architecture in the core of our Cultural District.
• Sundance Square and downtown, named the best in America, are a leading reason people visit and meet here, with hotels, shopping, entertainment and nightlife connected by a vibrant, walkable design.
• This urban redevelopment has extended to the Near Southside, where entrepreneurs are establishing exciting restaurants, creative agencies, artist studios and more.
• Panther Island, while constructing its infrastructure, has invested in programming, events and festivals, including the longest fireworks show in Texas.
• Our thriving restaurant scene, with a burgeoning number of breweries and distilleries, has put us on the map for culinary tourism.
• The proliferation of festivals and events held throughout the year means any month is a great time to visit.
• Major institutions and attractions — from the Fort Worth Zoo and the Stock Show and Rodeo to Texas Christian University football and the Texas Motor Speedway — provide entertainment and enjoyment for millions each year. Fort Worth also benefits from AT&T Stadium as we are a popular place to stay for people attending events there.
• Visitors can get here from any major U.S. city in four hours or less, and directly from more than 50 cities elsewhere in the world, thanks to the growth of D/FW Airport.
Celebrating our visitors during this National Travel and Tourism Week is about you. The residents of Fort Worth are the beneficiaries of this investment, support and hospitality in our city. You have enriched the Fort Worth story that we share with the world.
Bob Jameson is president and CEO of the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau.