Fort Worth

What's in a name? This one puts Fort Worth's tourism mission front and center

Tourism is big business and in an effort to capture all it can, the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau has changed its name and is now known as Visit Fort Worth.

"We are in this remarkable time in Fort Worth's history," said Bob Jameson, president and CEO of Visit Fort Worth. "We want people to visit Fort Worth and we're proud that our new name puts our mission front and center."

The name change was announced Wednesday at the organization's fifth annual meeting at the Omni Fort Worth hotel. Several hundred people from the hospitality industry, and community and city leaders attended.

According to Visit Fort Worth, the city had 9.1 million leisure, business and convention visitors in 2017, generating $116 million in local tax revenue and a $2.4 billion overall economic impact. Tourism supports more than 23,000 jobs.

Jameson used the gathering to pitch for a comprehensive transportation plan and to seek support in asking the city to consider moving up its time line on renovating the north end of the Fort Worth Convention Center. That work is now set for sometime after 2025.

The renovation was not included in a $75 million expansion to the south end of the center completed in 2004. Jameson said the city has been losing out on millions of dollars in convention and meeting business as a result.

"Losing time means lost opportunity," Jameson said. "The market is telling us it's time to act."

In 2019, the National Tour Association, which creates and sells travel packages and promotions, will hold its conference in Fort Worth for the first time, bringing at least 2,000 visitors to the city.

"This is an incredible opportunity for our city," Jameson said.

As part of the transportation piece, Jameson announced that the downtown circulator Molly the Trolley on Thursday will be free to users again. Trinity Metro began charging $5 for an all-day pass in August for trolley service that began in 2009. It costs about $1 million a year to operate the service.

Visit Fort Worth, Downtown Fort Worth Inc., Sundance Square and several downtown hotels have committed to paying $136,800 to help offset those costs.

Paul Ballard, Trinity Metro's president and CEO, said he appreciates the community participation. "Molly has always been a popular route for getting to the many downtown attractions," he said.

Mitch Whitten, Visit Fort Worth's vice president of marketing, said the organization's new name reflects a "broad invitation to the world. In today's crowded marketplace, it's easier to say. A number of tourism bureaus are going this path."

Dallas, Arlington and Austin are among those convention and visitors bureaus that have already changed to the Visit moniker.

The name change is organizational, Whitten said. The organization, created by the city of Fort Worth, is still Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.

And in another collaboration of organizations, Visit Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Music Association and Performing Arts Fort Worth, which owns and operates Ball Performance Hall in downtown, have teamed to create Texas Crossroads, a series of acoustic concerts of artists that normally would not be on stage together.

The series will begin this fall at the McDavid Studios downtown.

“We have such a breadth of local talent. We want to dispel the notion that it’s all country," Whitten said. "It is another chapter in this growing music scene."

DFW International Airport was presented the 2018 Hospitality Award. The airport was honored for its significant contributions in bringing the world to Fort Worth and in growing the travel, tourism and hospitality industry in the city. The award was presented last year to Grammy-nominated Fort Worth native Leon Bridges.

Sandra Baker: 817-390-7727, @SandraBakerFWST

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