Busy weekend brings $847k to Abilene economy

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – The Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau is reporting nearly $850,000 in revenue after the city’s busiest spells of the year when college graduations, Western Heritage Classic and Mother’s Day coincided last weekend.

Gauging the exact number of visitors and how much money they spent is a difficult task, Kelly Thompson with the ACVB says. The bureau says they cannot track the impact visitors at Abilene’s three university commencement ceremonies had, but estimates they added potentially thousands to the $847,005 they can tie directly to money spent at local businesses.

“We can’t track the commencement ceremonies, those aren’t in our system,” said Thompson. “We know that all the hotels were booked, we know the restaurants were packed, and that it was a really busy weekend.”

Thompson says Abilene is experiencing pre-2020 levels of tourism.

This is a trend she’s hopeful will continue as previously homebound travelers begin to feel more comfortable exploring the Big Country as the pandemic subsides.

“We are seeing pre-pandemic numbers of travelers,” said Thompson. “Next weekend our hotels are filling up as well.”

The Western Heritage Classic was a major draw for visitors over Mother’s Day weekend.

Executive Vice President and General Manager Rochelle Johnson says the 86th annual event brought 34,000 visitors to town and put a dent into funds the Taylor County Expo Center lost last year because of COVID-19.

“We had a deficit of $550,000 last year that we lost due to the pandemic, and I would say that this event will chop that down by about a $170 to $200,000 easily,” said Johnson.

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