City of Nacogdoches adapts to COVID-19’s impact on tourism: ‘It’s just bringing it to a standstill’

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is now focusing on making tourists out of residents

Nacogdoches is coping with unprecedented hit tourism is feeling

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Spring is the festival season for many parts of Texas, but many events across the state are canceled in an effort to flatten the curve on COVID-19.

At the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau, employees are usually preparing for the arrival of hundreds, maybe thousands, of springtime visitors this time of year. Instead, they discuss millions of dollars lost through cancellations.

COVID-19 changes everything about tourism.

“All over the nation it’s crippling,” said Sherry Chaney Morgan, executive director of Nacogdoches Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s just bringing it to a standstill.”

The Nacogdoches CVB’s budget is fully-funded through 72 1/2 percent of the hotel occupancy tax that’s collected in the city. The 50 to 60 percent occupancy rate normally seen this time of the year is now in the single digits.

The result “literally depletes our bank account," Morgan said. "At that point, we are spending money and no money is coming in.”

The tourism specialists said it’s not responsible to invite visitors anywhere, so tourism in the Oldest Town in Texas is focusing on the people who live there. To make tourists out of the residents, so to speak.

Ashley Morgan is creatively spreading the message ‘We Bend, Not Break’ to Nacogdoches residents.

“We would just like people to use our hashtag and post the signs and use the posts on their social media, either on their profile picture frame or just by posting it," said Ashley Morgan, creative content director at Nacogdoches CVB.

Elsewhere in the region, Sabine Parish, Lousiana on the eastern side of the Toledo Bend has issued an order telling tourists -- many from Texas -- to go home. The order requires those with vacation rental properties, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and recreational vehicle spaces to suspend rental operations.

The order remains in effect through April 29.

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