It’s been another BIG year for VisitDallas! Last year we announced that we were changing our name from the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau to VisitDallas, and it’s been a momentous change.
As we market the city to travelers from all across the globe, we created a new campaign to show off “All Sides of Dallas.” From shopping and sports, to arts, culture and southwestern cuisine, All Sides of Dallas highlights the many wonderful things that make Dallas the No. 1 visitor destination in Texas.
And we continued to position Dallas as the ideal destination for meetings and conventions through the new “Dallas Delivers” campaign targeted specifically to meeting professionals. The payoff has been fantastic – this year the sales team booked 1,446 meetings and events and a record 42 future citywide events! In all, the VisitDallas team booked 2.4 million hotel room nights this fiscal year, generating $1.96 billion in future economic impact. That’s big business!
The tourism industry continues to be an important and necessary driver of the Dallas economy. Last year, 26.7 million people visited Dallas, spending $4.6 billion and generating a total economic impact of $7.8 billion. These travelers support our hotels – this year bringing in $951 million in room revenue, an all-time high – but they also support our restaurants, parks, attractions and museums, making Dallas a better place to live, work, visit and do business. Tourism supports jobs – 60,000 jobs to be exact – and offsets your taxes, generating $558 million in local and state tax revenue last year. Again, that’s big business!
In January, the bathroom bill was introduced into the Texas legislature and it dominated the regular session, the special session, and news cycle for months. From LGBTQ rights to immigration issues – tourism was under attack. So this year, we stood up and spoke loudly against the bathroom bill and others that would hurt our business and tarnish the Texas brand. We developed Texas Welcomes All, a coalition of business and tourism leaders banding together to share the message that Texas is open for business to everyone.
Individually and as a group we met with legislators and businesses, we held press conferences on the steps of the capitol, and did anything to spread the message that we embrace and promote diversity, inclusion and equality. And we successfully prevented the bathroom bill from being passed. For this, we thank Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus and our many other allies’ efforts to protect the Texas economy and champion the hospitality and travel industry.
The Dallas Sports Commission continues to bring our city into the national spotlight. In April, rave reviews for the action both on and off the court followed an exciting NCAA Women’s Final Four that was hosted in Dallas. Looking to 2018, the Dallas Sports Commission played a vital role in securing two high-profile events for the city. AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, will host the National Football League Draft in April, and the Dallas Stars will close out their 25th anniversary by hosting the National Hockey League Draft in June at American Airlines Center.
We are reaching more and more people worldwide and international tourism continues to be a strong source of visitors to Dallas, bringing in 2.59 million travelers from outside the United States.
All of this was done by making the total visitor experience our top priority, and our Experience team played a key role. VisitDallas is the first destination in the country to create a division devoted to delivering the best customer service experience to set our destination apart. Looking ahead to 2018, VisitDallas plans to partner with other leaders in the customer service space, and to develop a new customer experience center. The center will act as a concierge to the city for locals, meeting planners, and leisure and business travelers.
These are just a few of the VisitDallas team’s outstanding accomplishments. Our 2017 annual report gives a complete outline of our BIG wins and plans for the future.
On behalf of our board of directors, staff and partners – thank you for making 2017 a remarkable year. We look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store, and we’re eager to work together to make BIG things happen in our city.
Phillip J. Jones
President and CEO