The city of Shenandoah Convention and Visitors Bureau has laid out plans to begin revamping tourism efforts as coronavirus restrictions have loosened throughout the first half of 2021.

A destination analysis plan was conducted and presented by firm Clarity of Place during a June 9 City Council meeting. The plan highlighted the fact that around 95% of the city’s local tax receipts come from visitor-travelers.

SCVB Director John Mayner said the city’s tourism plan moving forward is to be helpful and sustainable in light of the high amount of traffic from outside sources.

“Sometimes in our space of tourism, people juxtapose things for residents and things for tourism,” Mayner said. “We made a point in reviewing the different destination types to make the key point that every day, people come to this city.”

Leveraging assets

Mayner said the SCVB’s focus in the future will be on leveraging its current assets as well as pursuing regional partnerships with companies such as marketing firm Around Houston.

“We are trying to build upon those market drivers smartly,” Mayner said. “We are already advancing. We are trying to look at new ways to work smartly.”

Along with the city’s retail offerings, the SCVB plans to focus its efforts to leveraging digital environments by updating websites and encouraging online shopping as the past year has highlighted shoppers are ordering online more often.

Shenandoah Finance Director Lisa Wasner said despite fewer people traveling and staying in the city’s hotels, the effect of COVID-19 was less than anticipated with the total sales tax for fiscal year 2019-20 down $357,618.The city is already seeing an increase in the amount of sales tax revenue it is receiving due to increased spending in the area, she said. According to Wasner, the city was up $593,556 from October through April compared to FY 2019-20.

Wasner added the city has also seen an increase of $268,360 in sales tax revenue this year compared to FY 2018-19, which ended prior to the coronavirus pandemic, showing that overall growth is up.

“The main concern from fewer people traveling is for the lost business our hotels and motels might experience,” Wasner said.

Wasner added the city is fortunate to be located on a major highway in between two larger jurisdictions with The Woodlands and Conroe.

“This brings a lot of outside traffic to our retail and restaurant locations as well as having many businesses that have limited locations operate in our area,” Wasner said.

Current offerings

Mayner said among the features bringing people to Shenandoah are the medical campuses located in and around the city on either side of I-45 as well as two youth and collegiate sports arenas that attract weekend visitors such as Woodforest Bank Stadium on David Memorial Drive.

The city also has a growing number of hotels with new openings bringing the total to a dozen.

“This year, we have opened three new hotel properties,” Mayner said. “We have a significant number of hotel rooms and supplies that we have to contemplate on what we are doing.”The new hotels include the Hyatt House at Metropark Square, the Aloft Hotel at 19391 David Memorial Drive and the EVEN Hotel at 18850 David Memorial Drive.

Mayner said area stakeholders have expressed during meetings they appreciate the city’s offerings.

“It is a strong and extraordinary number when you are looking at those sales tax numbers,” Mayner said. “When those numbers are being generated from non-residents ... as the [SCVB], it is part of our mission. We are just over 2.2 square miles geographically speaking. ... There is a lot here.”