06 JUL 2017: A delegation of business and political representatives from Texas were in Toronto recently as part of a trade mission looking to increase partnerships with Canadian counterparts and promote tourism from Canada in general and Toronto in particular.

At a press conference with local media, Sean Donahue, CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Mark Thompson, vice president, tourism at VisitDallas and Robert Jameson, president and CEO of Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, were happy to boast about DFW, which is the fourth largest airport in the US in terms of operations (take-offs and landings) and, when it comes to passengers, DFW is tenth largest in the world.

Being Texas, size is always a factor and Donahue proudly noted that the footprint of DFW is “bigger than the island of Manhattan.”

And, Texas is carbon neutral – in fact it ranks first among the States, so it almost goes without saying, DFW is the country’s largest carbon-neutral airport.

Getting there from here is easy. Between Air Canada and American there are seven non-stops a day from Toronto and DFW. Air Canada has also recently started flying from Montreal, and they have a daily flight from Vancouver. WestJet flies to DFW from Calgary.

And obviously, it’s not just Canadians flying in. Donohue said the airport expects to welcome an estimated 67 million international arrivals in 2017, and with both growth and customer experience (it is not unusual for a passenger to clear right through arrivals in 10 to 15 minutes) being major priorities, the forty-year-old airport is undergoing a billion dollar renovation.

Mark Thompson of VisitDallas says with a grin that there is lots more to Dallas than ‘Howdy and Horses!”

From a tourism standpoint Dallas is a gateway said Thompson. While Mexico is the largest international market for Dallas (think proximity), Canadians head the list when it comes to air arrivals.

Images of cowboys and oil rigs may always be associated with Dallas, but the city also boasts major international hotels and boutique properties - with more opening all the time. A rich culinary scene offers everything including gourmet cuisine and farm to table fare. Trinity Groves, famous for its chef-driven incubator restaurant concepts is not to be missed.

Dallas also has a thriving Arts scene and the largest Arts District in the nation (The size thing again). The contrast and juxtaposition one finds in Dallas is what makes the city so unique said Thomson, while it is vibrant, modern and sophisticated, it still manages to preserve its western heritage.

Of course, no city worth its salt is anything without sports and the Dallas-Fort Worth area boasts six pro sports teams.

DFW_1
Sean Donahue, Mark Thompson & Robert Jameson

Robert Jameson said the message is really the strength of the region and its common attributes. Fort Worth is a unique American West story. The city has invested over US $175 million in its Western Heritage Experience and the Stockyards National Historic District. Fort Worth too, has a vibrant, innovative food scene that is constantly evolving said Jameson – and let’s not forget the bevvies.

“We celebrate the beverage scene,” he said, “it is easy to maneuver the ‘Ale Trail’ which features local micro-breweries and distilleries” (whiskey and vodka). The TX Whiskey Distillery will also soon open on the grounds of the historic Glen Garden Golf and Country Club where golfing legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson learned the game as caddies.

Music plays a major role in Fort Worth. It has a long history of country and western music, but there’s now also a large varied music scene to be found.

Fort Worth has always had a vision for itself said Jameson, it is growing and improving and it offers a dynamic environment and a tremendous opportunity for growth.

Located less that 50 KM apart both Fort Worth and Dallas may be competitive, but Jameson says, “Our personalities are very unique. We complete each other.”

Add that to an airport that accesses 200 plus destinations worldwide,14 daily flights to Canada, which makes it a great connecting point to Latin America should you want to head on down – but before you do make sure you take some time out at DFW – both Dallas and Fort Worth are well worth the visit.

 ftW

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Jen Savedra

Jen Savedra is the founder and editor in chief of Travel Industry Today with  a long career and considerable experience in various sectors of travel and tourism. She is dedicated to producing a publication that differentiates itself from the pack. One that pulls no punches, and - along with being a forum for news and ideas - is easy to navigate and always fun to read.

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