|By Sandra Baker, Fort Worth
Star-Telegram, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 29, 2011--Visitors to Fort Worth spent $1.3 billion to stay in hotels, eat and drink in 2010, a 7.5 percent increase from a year earlier, the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau said Thursday.
And spending should even be higher for 2011, said David DuBois, president and CEO of the bureau.
"Fort Worth's hospitality industry is thriving," he said. "We're in a good spot right now."
The numbers are compiled by Dean Runyan Associates, an independent economic and market research company. It's a snapshot of what tourists and conventiongoers spend in Fort Worth.
This year, tourist spending has already been stoked by several large conventions, Super Bowl festivities in February that drew thousands of visitors and convention business booked for the remainder of 2011.
"If we were to fast forward a year from now, 2011 will be our best year ever in the history of the hospitality industry in Fort Worth," DuBois said. "We have a lot of new business every year and a lot of repeat business."
Dean Runyan Associates estimates that in 2010, $29.5 million was generated through hotel tax receipts and tourism-related general sales tax dollars, an increase of nearly 7 percent from 2009.
For the first half of this year, Fort Worth hotels were 63 percent occupied compared with 59 percent in the first half of 2010 and 56 percent in 2009, DuBois said.
At downtown hotels, occupancy for the first six months was 71 percent versus 66 percent for the same period in 2010 and 55 percent in 2009.
"2009 was a rough year in retail sales," said Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square, the downtown entertainment district. He is also chairman of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Conventions fill the gaps in sales downtown when other retail business is down. "This year came out of the gates so fast," he said.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727
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