The word “tourism,” by definition, means the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure. To most people, this means a long distance vacation or visiting a place outside of their city. However, tourism should also be viewed for its meaning right here at home. Texas is ranked as the #3 state for tourism, claiming an estimated 255 million domestic visitors in 2015 who spent $69 billion in travel expenses, supported nearly 653,000 jobs, and generated $6.2 billion in state and local tax revenues.
In Tarrant County, $7.45 billion dollars were spent by tourists in 2014 (NOTE: 2015 numbers are not yet available), which generated $22.6 million in sales tax revenue for Southlake, which is 75 percent of the total sales tax collected. More significantly, this money is put to use for the betterment of the community and residents – allocated to city services, parks, schools, and police and fire services.
And while it’s easy to recognize the direct contribution of tourism to the local economy, the impact has more personal effects to both residents and business owners:
Another component of tourism revenue in Southlake is the seven percent hotel occupancy tax, which funds the city’s Tourism Division that was created in 2009 to proactively bring visitors to Southlake. Currently, the tax is paid solely by the Hilton Southlake Town Square, which is ranked as the #8 highest grossing hotel in Tarrant County (source: Fort Worth Business Press). The Hilton Southlake’s annual revenue is more than $25 million, of which 75 percent is from non-residents. NOTE: The Cambria Hotel & Suites will open in October in Southlake, providing additional hotel occupancy tax revenue.
According to Jill Lind, Southlake’s tourism and marketing manager, promoting the impact of tourism in Southlake will be done during National Travel and Tourism Week May 1-7.
“Although I spend a majority of my time promoting tourism to non-residents and touting the benefits of Southlake, it’s equally important for our citizens and local business owners to realize the importance of tourism in our community and the far-reaching effects,” she explained. “We have several activities planned next week to raise awareness about what we do and why it matters.”
The Tourism Division recently launched an updated, mobile-ready website, www.VisitSouthlakeTexas.com, to entice and educate tourists about city events and news. It features an online calendar, visitor’s guide, and a continuously updated list of things to do.
Southlake is fortunate to be located in the heart of Dallas- Fort Worth- which is the most popular destination in Texas for tourism – and minutes from DFW International Airport. With abundance of shops, restaurants, outdoor activities, special events and nearby entertainment venues, Southlake has become a year-round destination for visitors near and far.
For more information, contact the Department of Economic Development and Tourism at 817-748-8039.