More than 50 business and political representatives from across Texas brought the heat of the Lone Star State north this week, as part of a trade mission focusing on a number of cross-border initiatives, including increasing tourism from Toronto.
During a press conference held at the Royal Ontario Museum, representatives from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and the Conventions and Visitors Bureaus of both Dallas and Fort Worth were on hand with tourism updates for 2017 and beyond:
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
With DFW set to welcome an estimated 67 million international arrivals in 2017, CEO Sean Donohue said that the airport is on the grow with an approximately $4 billion CAD investment in the facility’s terminals currently underway.
With a designation as the world’s largest carbon-neutral airport (including the use of wind energy to generate power and buses running on compressed natural gas), Donohue said that investments also continue in sustainable technologies, such as renewable natural gas. The airport also recently welcomed service by Air Canada from Vancouver and Montreal this spring, increasing airlift from two large Canadian markets, Donohue said.
“We have the blessing and the curse of having a familiar brand, but with that comes expectations from visitors, said Mark Thompson, VP – tourism for Visit Dallas. While the familiar images of cowboys and oil rigs will always be associated with the city, Thompson said that an increased focus on arts and culture is front and centre in Dallas’ tourism sector. In addition, several new hotels “of all sizes,” from boutique properties to international brands are opening across the city, mirrored by growth of the Dallas culinary scene with approximately 150 restaurant openings in 2016.
While Mexico is the largest international market for Dallas, Canadians are tops for air arrivals, Thompson said.
Similar to nearby Dallas, Fort Worth is embracing the classic image of Texas while looking to the future, according to Bob Jameson, president & CEO, Fort Worth Visitors & Conventions Bureau.
More than $175 million U.S. has been invested in the city’s Western Heritage Experience, which includes the famed Stockyards National Historic District. Drawing on tradition while adding a modern twist is the city’s craft brewing and distillery scenes, including the Fort Worth Ale Trail featuring 10 local breweries and the soon-to-open TX Whiskey Distillery, on the grounds of the city’s historic Glen Garden Golf & Country Club.
Summing up the diverse groups of visitors drawn to Fort Worth, Jameson said that in recent weeks the city simultaneously hosted an IndyCar race, the Van Cliburn classical piano competition and a Japanese animation convention.