AUSTIN (KXAN) — Visit Austin officials said they’re beginning to see the economy pick up as the Lone Star State continues to reopen.
“If you ever said what’s worst-case scenario, that was worst-case scenario. We’ve never seen anything like that. It was nine times worse than 9/11 was,” Visit Austin’s President and CEO Tom Noonan said describing the economic impact this spring.
During the spring, hotel occupancy fell to around 20% in early April. Those numbers are slowly climbing back up. The latest occupancy report sits at around 45%.
“I thought I’d never be happy about those numbers, especially in the Austin market, but the reality is that’s significant,” Noonan said,
In 2018, the State of Texas Tourism Office reported nearly 29 million people visited Austin generating $8.7 billion. Last year, visitors spent an additional $5 million.
While tourism leaders don’t expect to see similar numbers in 2020, they remain hopeful and expect some local tourism to pick up this summer.
“That’s what we’re seeing is a lot of drive traffic, a lot of Dallas coming here or us going to Dallas and San Antonio coming over here and we go there, we’re seeing a lot of people coming out from New Orleans, we’re seeing a lot of drive traffic more than we’re seeing airline traffic right now,” Noonan explained.
While the summer season is usually a slower time for economic growth, tourism officials believe we can really start to see that shift in the fall because conferences initially scheduled in the spring have rescheduled for the fall and early 2021.