As businesses move to Wichita Falls and downtown development grows one major area of impact for the city remains on the decline, tourism.
In 2015 the Wichita Falls Conventions and Visitors Bureau was awarded roughly 30 new bids that account for more than 5,000 hotel stays, according to city officials. That number is down just slightly from 2014, but down significantly from years past.
“We are still getting some statewide conventions but there just, you know, we can't host a convention that's got 700 or a thousand attendees,” said Lindsay Greer, Director of the Wichita Falls Convention and Visitor Bureau.
Hotel space is a major factor contributing to decreasing tourism.
“Obviously when we don't have a large hotel, most large conventions want a headquarter hotel or a host hotel. They might overflow into some of our smaller hotels but they want a host hotel,” said Greer.
However, the incentive of a host hotel in Wichita Falls is something they can no longer offer. Not only was tourism crippled when the New Grand Hotel closed down years ago, but this year when the hotel at Wichita Falls shut down unexpectedly after the flooding in May.
That's why they said building a new convention hotel is critical, a project now entering phase two.
“As a city we've never been proactive on seeking out developers so as we go through this second phase and PKF is our consultants and they are constantly seeking out developers on our behalf,” said Greer.
While the development is in the works, Greer said her team will continue to fight for the bids the city is suited for, things like agricultural events and sports. Not only for the benefits of the city but also for tax payers.
“Every time those visitors come to town they are infusing money into this community, money that helps off set sales tax,” said Greer.
Phase two could take around 60 days to complete, maybe longer, according to Greer. Overall the project is a lengthy. Greer said she doesn’t expect the hotel to be completed for at least three years.
Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce officials said while tourism alone doesn't help bring new businesses and companies to the city it can lead to a better quality of life. With a better quality of life companies are more likely to move its business to the city.