Houston’s convention, tourism industry bracing for robust remainder of 2021

Conventions making a comeback in Houston
Conventions making a comeback in Houston

HOUSTON – The Anime Matsuri 2021 Convention in Houston this past weekend was the biggest and the best in the show’s history.

The city is now preparing to host “Comicpalooza” next weekend, and bracing for what’s expected to be a record-breaking August.

It’s all in stark contrast to 2020 when practically all conventions and live events were canceled due to the pandemic.

“We’re really preparing for a robust last half of this year,” said Michael Heckman, acting president & CEO of Houston First Corporation.

Heckman said the convention and tourism industry in Houston is bouncing back.

Now through December, Houston will host a record-breaking 16 citywide conventions, some that will draw visitors from all over the world.

Some of the more high-profile, well-known conventions include the NRA during Labor Day weekend, OTC, The World Petroleum Congress, and the International Quilt Festival.

The city is also expecting to host approximately 33 more events, not including sporting events, in which more than 1,000 people are expected.

“When you look at those 16 city-wide conventions, you’re looking at hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact,” Heckman said.

Whether it’s hotels, restaurants or transportation, it’s encouraging news for Houston’s hospitality industry, which has been fighting to survive for the past 14 months after many companies were forced to furlough or lay off employees.

“There’s getting that workforce back in place, retraining and it is a little bit like riding a bike,” Heckman said.

The hotel occupancy tax is a good indicator of how tourism is looking in Houston.

Heckman said the amount of money collected in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year is expected to double the amount collected in the first quarter of the year.

“We have a lot of high occupancy for our hotels, they can get healthy again, so it’s going to be a really good year going into next year. In the first half f next year, Houston will host some conventions that were relocated from other cities, so it will almost look like pre-pandemic levels,” Heckman added.

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