Like most cities, Fort Worth is slowly recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with tourism industry leaders anticipating a ‘robust’ season ahead.
Mitch Whitten, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Strategy with Visit Fort Worth, pointed to local attractions and upcoming events.
“We expect it to be a robust tourism season for Fort Worth in a safe and healthy way. We’ve got Cowtown Goes Green coming up in mid-March. We’ve got great museums like here at the Amon Carter, the Fort Worth Zoo,” Whitten said. “We also have a robust sports schedule. More than a dozen sports scheduled here between Will Rogers, downtown, and the Dickies that are bringing a lot of fans.”
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Over the past few months, Whitten said they have seen an uptick in Fort Worth visitors. The trend began steadily increase last summer.
“We think people have, all along, have just been trying to figure out how to do the right thing and make the right choices,” he said. "Over the last three to six months, we’ve seen our hotels up to 50% capacity fill up on the weekend, which is strong during a pandemic. But already, we’re seeing when there are special events in town like the American Rodeo, we’re seeing that number climb to 80% occupancy."
As the state prepares to lift restrictions on businesses and gatherings, along with the statewide mask mandate, Visit Fort Worth has created a guide listing which businesses still require or strongly encourage masks.
“Visitors like to know before they go,” Whitten said. “The “Stay Strong” website is already the top page on our website, about five times as much as our ‘events’ page. We’re excited people are looking for information, so they can travel to Fort Worth.”
At Dickies Arena, spokesperson Alissa Sanderson confirmed their policy on wearing masks inside has not changed. They’re also working with event promoters in terms of capacity, with capacity limited for the American Athletic Conference basketball championships next week.
The arena is not alone in the decision to keep occupancy limited for now.
Avery Elander, Assistant Director of Communications for the Fort Worth Zoo, said they plan to keep capacity at around 60%. They’re also keeping their online ticketing system, and masks will be strongly encouraged.
Elander said they plan to extend hours during Spring Break, one of their busiest times of the year, to help with traffic flow.
“We’re cautiously optimistic moving forward. We’re ready to have people in the park. We want them to be able to and come connect with animals and see wildlife, spend time outside especially coming off such a difficult year for everyone,” Elander said.
She added, their decisions on operations are monitored daily.
“Nothing is set in stone. We may decide to make changes in the next couple of days. It’s all fluid,” she said.
NBC 5 has compiled a list of retailers across North Texas who have announced their plans regarding masking if it's required, encouraged or not required. To find the list, click here.