ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The city of Abilene’s tourism had a reported economic impact of $515.2 million. 

At the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) 21st annual H.O.T Host Luncheon, also known as “Hero of Tourism,” Vice President Robert Lopez said Abilene’s foot traffic went up by 24.4%.  

“Abilene is growing and as it grows and as it evolves so must our efforts and where we place our focus,” Lopez said. “The city can grow as much as it wants but we also need to make sure we cultivate a spirit of hospitality.”

Lopez told KTAB/KRBC that putting up events like this luncheon is one way they can show their appreciation to their 56 partnerships. This luncheon honors community members who brought a sizeable event, association meeting, or other gatherings to the city. 

“The ultimate goal here is to make sure that when people talk about Abilene,” Lopez explained. “They talk about the great time they had here and create lifelong memories with family and friends.”

These memories are created by attending some of the most iconic events in West Texas. Events like The Western Heritage Classic and the annual Children’s Art and Literacy Festival (CALF), according to ACVB’s Sales and Sports director, Tiffany Nichols.

“We’re seeing people come from all over,” Nichols said. “They’re very interested in the revitalization of what we’re doing and the amenities we have to offer.”

Nichols continued to say that as Abilene grows, she’s grateful to see these big groups of people, “live like a local.”  

“We have the Downtown Hotel, we have the Dodge Jones Youth Center, and then we have the Taylor County Expo center,” Nichols listed. “With those, that’s a game-changer and definitely makes an impact in Abilene.”

The overall tax revenue generated in Abilene due to travel was $49.9 million, up 26.3% from last year. Additionally, ACVB reported travel employment was also up by 7.2%, with more than 3,800 employed in the travel industry in Abilene.