Travel is rebounding after the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the hospitality industry. Visit Dallas tourism promoters want Memorial Day weekend to mark Dallas’ return as a leisure destination.
Visit Dallas CEO Craig Davis said hotels were down 10% a year ago, but business has rebounded, higher, he said, in Dallas than in some other cities. .
A Dallas convention with 6,000 visitors is booked for July.
“Things have really changed in the last 60 days and we are seeing a dramatic increase in May,” said Davis. “We are very, very positive about the future of Dallas.”
A new Dallas attraction is the AT&T Discovery Center outside of the company’s headquarters on Commerce Street. The collection of dining and entertainment is like a Dallas Times Square.
“We are a city of culture, art and attraction. And people can come here to have a big city experience and they come away very, very happy, ”Davis said.
There was evidence of the travel rebound with high activity at the DFW Airport car rental center on Friday.
A group of visitors from Chicago and Baltimore who met at the airport for a Memorial Day vacation weekend in Dallas were among those waiting in a very long line at the Budget rental counter.
“I’m really excited. I’ve never been to Texas, so I can’t wait to see what you have to offer,” said Goldie Williams, a tourist from Chicago.
Customers reported that the wait for Budget rental took about an hour.
“Everyone has a reservation. They don’t have a walk-in closet. So everyone you see has been waiting long enough now, ”said Baltimore tourist Vanessa Murray.
Rental cars are scarce this summer after companies cut their fleets during weak demand last year and now new cars are less available due to a shortage of computer chips.
Jami Bonomi, traveling from Atlanta with two college-aged children, was not complaining.
“We are visiting family. We celebrate graduation, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, anniversaries, we celebrate everything, ”she said.
His daughter Anna Bonomi blamed the surge in holiday business for the long line of rental cars after visiting DFW Airport earlier with a different experience.
“I arrived here two weeks ago and the line wasn’t that long before. It’s interesting. I came for a job interview and now we are here because of my family and the line is so much longer, ”she said.
The American Automobile Association of Texas predicts a 60% increase in trips this summer over stay-at-home orders last year.
Daniel Arbruster of AAA Texas said the roads would also be busier on the holiday.
“Certainly in the big metropolitan areas like DFW, Houston, you could see once or twice, even three times the volume of trips. In Houston, that’s what’s predicted. So if you are traveling south, be aware of this. If you’re traveling on I-35, just be prepared for delays, ”Arbruster said. “We expect the number of people traveling for July 4 and beyond to continue to increase as well.”
The rebound in the tourism industry means more jobs for workers in Texas.
Hotels are struggling to hire enough housekeepers to meet the growing demand for rooms, travel experts say.
“I was talking to a hotel this morning, that they could run 100% this weekend, but they are not able to do that because they had to reduce their offers at the hotel as they could not maintain these hotel rooms, ”Davis mentioned.
Vanessa Murray from Baltimore once spent time in Dallas, so she recommended this vacation destination to her friends.
“I think we’re all excited, yeah. I would say there are some great places to visit, lots of sightseeing. I think it’s fun, ”she said.
As more people feel safe leaving their homes and demand for tourism returns, tour operators are warning customers to book flights, hotels and especially rental cars well in advance. Don’t expect to show up at the counter and find a car waiting.