Tourism helped support nearly 13,000 jobs in Frisco within a one-year period, according to the latest study from Visit Frisco, formerly known as the Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The number of jobs supported—which was measured between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017—is a 36 percent increase from the number of jobs supported in 2008-09 when Visit Frisco conducted its first tourism impact study.
This growth correlates with an increasing number of people visiting Frisco each year, with more than 6 million visitors in 2016-17.
These visitors are spending more money, which is leading to more revenue for businesses and the city, more jobs and more businesses opening.
“We’re really happy to see the growth and not too surprised by it because so many new things have opened,” Visit Frisco Executive Director Marla Roe said. “… If you think about the growth that the city has from a residential perspective, the same thing is happening from the visitor side of it, which is really exciting.”
Visitor spending has increased by more than 50 percent since the 2008-09 study to an estimated $1.9 billion in 2016-17. Visitor spending supported jobs mostly in the restaurant, retail, and entertainment and sightseeing industries, according to the study.
This information is useful for developers and business owners looking to build in Frisco because it shows where people are spending money, Roe said.
“There’s a reason why all these restaurants are opening, and they all stay so busy,” she said. “I think the benefit that a restaurant has is you have a great local base. But if you can then show that restaurant you also have 6 million visitors that come to the city every year, now it’s kind of a win-win situation.”
Many of the jobs supported by tourism are also the less-obvious ancillary jobs, such as employees for gas stations, car rental services and convenience stores, Frisco Chamber of Commerce President Tony Felker said.
“There are a lot of different areas that tourism in Frisco impacts beyond the obvious ones of hotels, retail and restaurants,” he said.
Visitors spent $250.8 million on local transportation—which includes car rentals—in 2016-17 behind spending on retail—$676.6 million—and restaurants—$448.7 million.
The number of visitors coming to the city and how much money those visitors spend could also be the difference in a major attraction choosing to locate in Frisco, Roe said.
“When there’s been an attraction in the past that’s been looking at our destination versus another, we’ve got this data to show them how strong the visitor market is here,” she said. “If, say, all things were equal and you had a good base of residents but then you add on the number of visitors we have, that’s a lot more potential business for someone than if you don’t have those combined factors.”
Increased spending means more revenue for Frisco businesses, Felker said. But as more visitors come into Frisco each year, there is also a strain on the availability of employees, he added.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Felker said. “… Frisco has been purposeful about making tourism an integral part of its economy. There are pluses and minuses to it. It means a lot of times that those who are needing that kind of work may not be able or may have additional pressure in terms of finding housing. But at the same time, it’s great to have the jobs. It produces business and produces revenue for businesses in town. ”
Roe said restaurants and retail stores opening in Frisco are competing with Legacy West in Plano for employees.
The number of visitors coming to Frisco every year is expected to grow as is the demand for workforce in the service industries, Roe said.
“If you look at all of the hotels that are currently under construction, that’s a whole new set of employees that are needed in this area,” she said. “Not even half of the restaurants have opened at the The Star [in Frisco], and that’s not even including what’s going to happen at Frisco Station. … It’s a good thing, but if you drive around town you see a lot of ‘Hiring now’ signs.”
Even with staffing challenges that come with a growing tourism industry, tourism must grow for the city to be economically viable, Felker said.
“We’re always looking to increase the tourism dollars; that is a huge economic development driver for our area,” he said. “Tourism just leads to other opportunities for the area above and beyond the direct impacts of producing jobs in those sectors and/or producing dollars. It’s an economic driver for other areas down the road.”