Fort Worth is getting booked.
With the city attracting bigger meetings and more tourists from all over the world, the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau (FWCVB) is bracing for incoming travelers, launching a year-long strategic planning initiative to improve tourism and hospitality in Cowtown.
"We are announcing a year-long effort to write our first-ever tourism strategic plan," FWCVB President and CEO Bob Jameson said at the bureau's Annual Meeting on Wednesday. "We will be asking for [the city's] input on these priorities to build success for the decade ahead."
The FWCVB reported big numbers from 2016. About 8.8 million visitors came to Fort Worth last year, generating $116 million in local tax revenues and $2.3 billion in direct and indirect spending. Looking to the future, the FWCVB also booked the National Beta Club Convention for 2020, which will be the largest convention booked in FWCVB history, bringing in an estimated 15,000 room nights.
The bureau also reported 70.7 percent hotel occupancy in 2016, meaning that while high demand is a good thing, the city needs more space in order to remain competitive, Jameson said. He said the city missed $199 million of economic impact last year due to a lack of space and adequate facilities.
Plans to renovate the Fort Worth Convention Center, as well as build a new hotel, should help, Jameson said.
The FWCVB also plans to enhance amenities for international visitors, offer more tours and launch a "digital passport" app that will allow tourists to buy tickets to Fort Worth attractions via their mobile devices. The digital passport is expected to launch in February.
"Fort Worth is a city on the move," Mayor Betsy Price said. "There's no better place to be than right here in Fort Worth."
Fort Worth soul singer Leon Bridges was also honored at the Annual Meeting, receiving the 2017 Hospitality Award for contributing to the growth of the city's tourism industry.