Visit The Woodlands looks to tourism recovery plan as revenue shortfalls from shutdown become clear

Visit The Woodlands, The Woodlands Township’s visitors and conference bureau, discussed a three-phase reopening plan for the area’s tourism and hospitality facilities during a videoconference meeting it held May 20.

As area hotels began to reopen—including The Woodlands Resort, which reopened May 20—VTW President Nick Wolda said the larger reopening plan for the area's tourism amenities will focus on the concepts of response, recovery and resilience.

As expected, the hotel occupancy tax, which helps to fund VTW, was short in the May report, which reflects March receipts, according to Monique Sharp, the township’s assistant general manager for finance and administration. The shutdown that resulted in the closure of most area hotels and facilities began in mid-March.

As of March 31, VTW's year-to-date revenue trailed the budgeted revenue amount of $799,000 by $134,000, Sharp said.

VTW budget reductions planned in response to the March shutdowns included cutting March advertising, ceasing staff travel and planning other departmental cuts, according to the presentation. In April, those cuts continued, totaling about $1 million, according to VTW officials.

“Obviously, we expected to get hammered on the tax receipts, but we’ll just have to see what happens,” Chair Bruce Rieser said during the meeting.

Initial recovery strategies include using the township’s natural amenities such as lakes and parks to attract visitors, VTW Executive Director Elizabeth Eddins said. Rieser said this stage could focus on individual activities rather than group activities.

“[Recovery] is where we are now. We feel this time could be anywhere between six to 18 months depending on our hotels and visitors’ recovery," Eddins said.

Among new offerings in The Woodlands designed with individuals and small groups in mind, the Riva Row Boat House began offering water bikes May 21 through The Woodlands Parks and Recreation Department. Four water bikes are available and are designed to be used by single riders. Reservations can be made by calling 281-210-3965, according to the township.

Rieser said during the meeting he disliked the term “the new normal,” describing long-term changes in habits and instead hoping the return to genuinely normal activities would resume soon.

“What we’re operating in now is anything but normal, and I don’t think we should ever refer to it as that,” he said.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'Our hearts are heavy': Area churches to hold prayer rally June 5 at Magnolia High School

The rally will be held at 7 p.m. in front of Magnolia High School, located at 14350 FM 1488, Magnolia, calling for healing and unity in the nation.

pool, The Woodlands, Sawmill Park
Spraygrounds open; pool season begins June 6 in The Woodlands

Sprayground water attractions in The Woodlands Township opened June 3 for a season running through Oct. 31.

Participants held fists in the air during a moment of silence at a June 2 protest over the death of George Floyd. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Criminal justice research expert weighs in on George Floyd protests and the sentiments driving them

"I think the data is clear and convincing that there is a problem. I think that we now have societal consensus of that problem and accepting that data."

Houston Food Bank is looking for more volunteers as it handles increased food distribution during COVID-19. (Courtesy Houston Food Bank)
Houston Food Bank: Volunteers needed now more than ever

The Houston Food Bank is distributing more than double the usual amount of food throughout the community.

America's ER operated a drive-thru testing site in The Woodlands in mid-April, which later moved to WoodsEdge Community Church. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
America's ER to move to COVID-19 testing by appointment June 8 at Cypress, Magnolia facilities; large-scale testing site closes June 4

While the drive-thru testing site will close permanently June 4, testing will still be available by appointment beginning June 6 at America's ER facilities in Cypress and Magnolia, officials said in a June 2 statement.

(Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
PHOTOS: Scenes from the downtown Houston march for George Floyd

People of all ages, colors and creeds packed downtown Houston June 2 to march in memory of former Houston resident George Floyd.

Smartphone data analysis by Cuebiq shows how Montgomery County residents' mobility habits changed throughout this spring. (April Halpin/Community Impact Newspaper)
DATA: See how Montgomery County residents' mobility changed through stay-at-home orders, economic reopening

Cell phone location data analysis from tracked by Cuebiq shows how resident travel patterns changed through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue, the Harris County Public Health Department released a statement asking people to take precautionary measures if they plan to attend a protest. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: County tops 350 new cases for second straight day

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue, the Harris County Public Health Department released a statement asking people to take precautionary measures if they plan to attend a protest.

Nola Z. Valente/Community Impact Newspaper
60,000 gather in downtown Houston June 2 in solidarity with George Floyd's family

Among a series of marches across the U.S. to honor George Floyd, his hometown of Houston turned out in the thousands June 2.

Montgomery County's total coronavirus cases now total 1,010, a jump of 44 from June 1. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery County breaches 1,000 total coronavirus cases June 2

Montgomery County's total coronavirus cases now total 1,010, a jump of 44 from June 1.

The Montgomery County Hospital District is urging residents to come to the hospital for medical treatment. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County sees 30% increase in out-of-hospital deaths, officials say

“We are hearing the same frightening story from our paramedics over and over again,” said James Campbell, MCHD Chief of EMS. “People refusing to go to the hospital because they are scared of COVID-19. So, this is our message to the community and our neighbors here in Montgomery County: It is safe to go to the hospital.”

PlainsCapital Bank opens new The Woodlands branch

The branch is the bank's sixth Greater Houston location and its first north of the city.