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Tourism Dollars Return to Dallas

Business

Texture US dollars. Background of one hundred dollar bills. | Image by Dennis Shpacov, Shutterstock

Last year, over 22 million visitors to Dallas spent $4.4 billion on hotels, dining, and shopping, according to the city’s tourism board, Visit Dallas.

While visitor spending was up 41% from 2020, it was still roughly three-quarters of the amount they shelled out in 2019, before the pandemic suffocated travel.

Visit Dallas expects tourism spending to reach $5.63 billion this year, nearly recovering from the $5.69 billion witnessed in 2019. In 2023, tourism dollars are anticipated to climb over 11% annually, hitting $6.26 billion by the end of the year.

News of the recovering sector broke amid elections in the country, with 7 out of 10 Dallas voters casting ballots supporting Proposition A. As a result of its passing, hotel guests in the city will see the tax rate on room rentals rise from 13% to 15%.

The increased revenue generated by the tax hike has been earmarked for a new downtown convention center, among other economic developments.

Dallas City councilmember Gay Donnell Willis said it was his “favorite kind of money.”

“It’s other people’s money,” he said. “This is a tourist tax. It’s a 2% hotel occupancy tax increase that will help us fund these amazing improvements to our community.”

Supporters of the new convention center will be pleased with the vote result. The new venue is expected to increase the city’s attractiveness for major events.

Visit Dallas estimated over 43,000 jobs are supported by tourism, generating $421 million in tax revenue for local and state governments.

“The tourism industry is the 10th-largest industry in Dallas and a critical economic engine for the city, generating tax revenue and jobs that residents rely on,” said Visit Dallas CEO Craig Davis.

Tourism was heavily affected by the pandemic. Visit Dallas said people have been eager to travel again, especially to large annual events like the State Fair of Texas.

“I’m thrilled that the report shows Dallas is recovering faster than expected, bringing necessary revenue back to the city,” said Davis.

While tourists spent $4.4 billion last year, the total economic impact was much higher, at $7.2 billion.

“We are pleased that visitors are returning at near-pre-pandemic levels and that our hospitality industry — which brings in billions of dollars in economic impact and creates thousands of jobs in our city — is recovering faster than anticipated,” said Mayor Eric Johnson.

Last year, Dallas welcomed 3.6 million more visitors than in 2020. Most stayed in the city for overnight trips (57%), spending money on food and accommodation. Predictably, hotel and restaurant owners have welcomed the recovery, for they suffered substantially under pandemic shutdowns.

While overall employment recovered by June 2021, employment in the leisure and hospitality sector didn’t regain lost jobs until April 2022.

Now, the industry is rallying. In September, leisure and hospitality added more jobs to the Texas economy than any other sector. Over 25,000 positions were added, up almost 12% from one year prior.

Next year, tourism is expected to produce an economic impact in excess of $10 billion, supporting more than 62,000 jobs. In total, local and state governments can expect to generate $674 million from the activity.

While a recession could derail the predictions, Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, is confident “the forward momentum of travel” will “continue well into 2023.”

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