International travelers return to Grapevine
30 Nov 2023
The return of international travelers to Grapevine symbolizes a resurgence of cross-cultural exchanges and a vibrant revival of the city’s welcoming spirit. When COVID-19 locked everything down in 2020, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – one of the busiest travel hubs in the world – fell strangely silent.
After a period of restricted movement and global uncertainty, the sight of travelers making their way back to Grapevine reflects a collective longing for connection and exploration, though not without new normals and nuances.
A small town nestled between two large cities: an appeal to international travelers
While larger cities have struggled to recover in the wake of the pandemic, smaller communities with easy access and comparable amenities found a new niche in which to thrive. For Grapevine, the COVID pause was an opportunity to reimagine an already-popular family destination. And, of course, to meet folks a little closer to home at a much better price point.
“Following COVID, the idea of a small town gave safer images and more open-air images that met what visitors wanted,” said Heather Egan, Director of Leisure & International Sales for the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Grapevine offers the best of both worlds, having that small town feel, but also being an easy commute to the big cities of Dallas and Fort Worth.”
With its proximity to DFW and a collection of world-class hotels within 10 miles of the airport, Grapevine is marketed as the gateway to Texas and the South-Central U.S. It’s the perfect starting or ending point for a fly/drive tour. Currently, Grapevine has ten international tour companies selling Grapevine packages – 66 itineraries feature Grapevine attractions.
Grapevine’s new, unique, and renovated attractions and events bring in millions of visitors
“Travel returned to Grapevine quickly because we made ourselves available,” said Joe Thompson, Director of Sales for the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Festivals and events like Main Street Fest, GrapeFest, and Christmas Capital of Texas show guests and potential meeting planners that Grapevine is a fun, vibrant, and safe city.”
2023’s GrapeFest brought many international travelers to the region, welcoming over 200,000 visitors. It served as an opportunity to further solidify the Sister City relationship between Grapevine and Barossa, Australia. Qantas Airlines, the festival’s international airline partner, offers daily direct flights to DFW from Sydney and Melbourne.
Though international travel has not returned to pre-pandemic numbers, it continues to grow at a more rapid rate than anticipated. According to DFW’s Traffic Statistics, approximately 5.6 million international travelers arrived at DFW in 2019. In the first ten months of 2023, DFW has welcomed 4.1 million travelers. For context, 2020’s international arrivals reached just 2.5 million. The increase is likely due to a combination of factors, including the relaxation of travel restrictions, expansion in COVID-19 vaccination availability, and the popularity of the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a tourist destination.
Travel to the region, in general, has increased significantly year over year since the pandemic. In the last year, 4.3 million people – domestic and international – with a spending capacity of $1.5 billion – visited Grapevine, an increase of over 22 percent from 2022. These visitors spent a total of 7.5 million nights in the city, an increase of 23 percent from 2022.
Businesses benefit from bigger tourism
As exhibited by the growing number of tourists – international and domestic – Grapevine is a vibrant, desirable destination. Businesses in all sectors benefit from a healthy tourism community. Restaurants, hotels, shops, and entertainment venues certainly see an uptick in sales and bookings, but ancillary businesses, like transportation providers and tour operators, do too!
“I think we benefit from many new visitors who weren’t coming here before,” said Egan. “They experience how charming and wonderful it is here. And from those visits, Grapevine continues to grow with repeat visitors, social media marketing, and word of mouth marketing.”