The title of Visit Fort Worth’s 2023 annual meeting was Collective Effervescence. It was a seven-syllable mouthful highlighting the power of working together and the keynote speaker, CBS and public radio personality Mo Rocca, used it to take a jab at Dallas, saying it reminded him of an old Alka-Seltzer commercial.
“Fort Worth is the Alka-Seltzer to Dallas’ heartburn and indigestion,” he said. “Fort Worth, ‘oh what a relief it is!’”
Visit Fort Worth could afford a little fun. The tourism and trade nonprofit that contracts with the city to serve the hospitality industry and represent Fort Worth, reported record economic impact numbers for 2022 along with an accompanying record number of visitors.
“The fact that 10.9 million visitors is a record, the fact that $3.1 billion economic impact is a historic amount and the $2.5 billion in direct spend,” said Bob Jameson, president and CEO of Visit Fort Worth. “All of those numbers — the 31,000 jobs — those are all higher than we’ve ever experienced. That to me is big news.”
Those numbers are likely to increase as the economy moves on from the pandemic, Jameson said.
“Leisure travel came back first and now business travel is returning,” he said. “What we’re not seeing yet is the individual business traveler, but we believe that will happen.”
International travel is also still down, Jameson said, it’s about 60% of what it was pre-pandemic.
Breaking down the numbers, Jameson said sports tourism in Fort Worth generated $105 million in direct spending in 2022. The Fort Worth Sports Commission hosted more than 66 events and has 75 future events booked, according to Jason Sands, executive director of the Fort Worth Sports Commission.
The city also put on a pretty, if dusty, face for Hollywood. Over the past seven years, film and television production has contributed $555 million in local economic impact and supported 18,900 jobs, according to the Fort Worth Film Commission.
The growth in tourism and business travel in Fort Worth is good news for the nearly 1,000 hotel rooms opening soon in the city.
In downtown, the Le Méredien, the Sandman and the Avid are expected to open in the next year.
“We’ve got some significant new inventory coming and more a little further down the road,” Jameson said.
The new hotels will accompany the Phase I expansion of the Fort Worth Convention Center. The $701 million project is expected to begin in the next few months.
“The time is now to expand the convention center campus and upgrade it to look like the modern city we are,” Jameson said.
Visit Fort Worth will be marketing the city in other ways. This spring Visit Fort Worth will unveil new videos that will showcase the city, from the Northside to the Near Southside, Jameson said.
Visit Fort Worth also visited the past during the event, unveiling a new video touting the city featuring the voice of legendary Jimmy Stewart.
Stewart had appeared in and voiced a 1977 short film about Fort Worth titled “The Unexpected City,” His voiceover was repurposed for the new video.
Keynote speaker Rocca learned about Fort Worth, and Dallas, early in his career when he was hired to work on Wishbone, a PBS television program filmed in DFW. He said he learned a lot about the differences between the two cities – and the big personalities in Fort Worth.
A biographical film is needed about legendary Fort Worth Star-Telegram publisher and city booster Amon G. Carter, Rocca told the crowd estimated at 950.
“Seriously, I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, but who from Dallas has a personality as big as Among G. Carter?,” he asked the crowd. “The only person I can think of is J.R. Ewing, a fictional person played by Larry Hagman. But we all have to remember that Larry Hagman may have starred in Dallas, but he was born in Fort Worth.”
There are several books about Carter, including a recent one by Dave Lieber, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News who also has penned a play on the legendary Fort Worth icon.
Hotels coming soon to Fort Worth
Bowie House Hotel, Camp Bowie Boulevard and Dorothy Lane.
Set for completion later this year, the four-story, five-story hotel that is part of the Auberge Resorts Collection features 88 rooms and 18 suites, including a 2,250 square-foot signature suite, a ballroom, a pool and a spa.
Le Méredien, 815 Commerce St,. formerly known as the Hotel Texas Annex, is a 13-story hotel with 189 rooms. The hotel is expected to open later this year.
Sandman Signature Hotel, 810 Houston St., in the nearly century-old W.T. Waggoner Building is being converted into a 245-room hotel by Gaglardi’s Northland Properties. The hotel is set to open soon and is taking bookings as soon as April.
Avid Hotel, 320 Samuels Ave., is under construction by developer Trinity Bluff Hospitality LLC. The 104-room hotel will have the look and feel of a boutique hotel.
The Crescent Fort Worth, is a 200-room luxury hotel that will include a Canyon Ranch luxury spa, rooftop lounge and a chef-driven restaurant. The hotel is expected to open this year in the Cultural District.
The Omni Hotel Fort Worth is expanding by 400 rooms, adding a 50,000-square foot meeting room and a restaurant that will face Lancaster Ave. Completion is expected by 2026.
Possible convention center area hotel. City leaders expect redevelopment of the Fort Worth Convention Center to attract a large hotel of around 1,000 rooms.
Source: Downtown Fort Worth Inc., Visit Fort Worth
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Feb. 22 to clarify the number of events the Fort Worth Sports Commission has hosted, and plans to host, and to clarify that a biographical film is needed about Amon G. Carter.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.