TORONTO — Just a dozen years ago, the number of Canadians travelling to Dallas didn’t even crack 50,000. Today the number of visitors from this market has reached 340,000 annually. It’s a real success story for the destination and fitting for a city that promotes itself with the slogan ‘Big Things Happen Here’.
“We’re very pleased with the latest Canadian numbers,” said Phillip Jones, President and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. Visitor figures from this market are up 27%, he noted. “We want to maintain and grow Canadian visitation. I think a lot of Canadians have done New York City, Los Angeles and other big U.S. cities. They’re looking for something that’s uniquely American, and that’s Texas. And we’re the gateway to Texas.”
Daily service from cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary has gone a long way to boosting numbers from Canada, he added. In 2014 some 58,000 business travellers arrived from Canada, and 280,000 leisure travellers. The average stay is 3.9 nights.
The 1980s TV show Dallas is for most people the one (and often only) cultural reference for the city. The TV show is a powerful connection for people, but it’s outdated, says Jones. “People talk about the TV show, but it’s so not that today,” he said. Dallas has the largest urban arts district in the U.S., for example. There’s more to this city than cowboys and larger-than-life personalities.
Thanks to the strength of the Dallas-Forth Worth gateway, Dallas is the third largest recipient of international visitors into the U.S. The city is in the midst of a hotel boom, with 10 new builds on the horizon and US$1.74 billion in hotel development. More than 2,000 new rooms will open in the city over the next 18 months.
Dallas is now part of the CityPass program, with six of its top attractions available to travellers for one packaged price. The six attractions are the Perot Museum of Science and Nature, the Reunion Tower Geo-Deck, The Dallas Zoo or Sixth Floor Museum, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum or the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Dallas is a good-value destination, adds Jones. “We’re a much more affordable destination than some other big U.S. cities, with the same quality product.”