Dripping Springs is already seeing a big impact from COVID-19 as wedding industry takes a hit

Hays

Texas' wedding capital 'crushed' by virus, say Dripping Springs officials

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — The coronavirus pandemic has slammed the economies of many small, rural cities of Central Texas.

Dripping Springs is one of them.

The city’s chamber of commerce estimates more than 400 employees have been furloughed already.

Jeanette Baynes spent Wednesday running errands and checking up on her two Airbnb rentals before a shelter-at-home order takes effect in Hays county.

Her problems as a property manager started long before Wednesday.

“We’ve now been cancelled for at least two months out,” says Baynes, who says the calls started coming in March 14.

Before that, Baynes was juggling back-to-back bookings.

Now, she’s lost her only source of income. The rentals bring in about $120,000 a year.

“I haven’t even had the time yet to process, ‘Well okay, how are we going to make our bills? Where is this money going to come from?’” she says.

In a small city like Dripping Springs, the visitors bureau says most of their economy relies on tourism and most of that industry relies on the wedding business.

“Dripping Springs is the wedding capitol of Texas,” says Pam Owens, president of the Dripping Springs Visitors Bureau.

“In the spring, we have about 300 weddings per weekend. Even if the average wedding was $20,000 — and we know its way more than that — look at what we’ve lost,” she says.

Owens says carryout food and alcohol are keeping the local economy crawling — for now.

“As long as our few restaurants that are open can stay open, that’s the only change that I see. Otherwise, we’re pretty much at rock bottom,” she says.

For those hit hardest, there’s nothing left to do but wait.

“I’m just visualizing positive things,” Baynes says.

The Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce has created a Facebook page to keep track of which small businesses are still open for carryout and delivery. You can find it here.

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