With some events, travel and commerce returning in early 2021, The Woodlands Township officials said they are seeing signs of financial recovery, although first-quarter revenues are still under budget.

In the first quarter of the year, The Woodlands hotels saw rooms sell out as a result of an event in early March, and retail sales are up, officials said at the township’s March 31 board of directors meeting.

“I’m happy to report The Woodlands Marathon caused the first hard [hotel] sellout for the first time in over a year two weeks ago; that’s huge news,” board Vice Chair Bruce Rieser said.

Monique Sharp, assistant general manager for finance and administration in the township, said the township revenues overall were about $260,000 off budget as of the most recent reports ending Feb. 28, partially because the township is not receiving event admissions tax from The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and some other factors.

Although the Pavilion has announced it expects to bring back some events this summer, another revenue generator for the township, the Ironman Texas triathlon, was postponed from April 24 to a tentative October date.

While hotel occupancy tax collections were 37% off budget as of the February report, Sharp said the township is still able to cover its debt service payments and funding for Visit The Woodlands, its convention and visitors bureau, which is funded by hotel tax.

Rieser said the winter storm in mid-February was also an unexpected boost to hotel revenue, when people sought hotels amid power outages and water line breaks in their homes.

Rieser said he expected hotel tax revenue to be only about 10%-15% off budget within 60 days.

“People are starting to move around and ... it’s starting to look favorable,” he said.

At the close of the meeting, Chair Gordy Bunch also asked for the board to consider resuming its incorporation study, which was paused last March amid the coronavirus shutdowns. He suggested generating calendar dates for public meetings that will allow the board to finish the incorporation planning process it began in 2018.