AUSTIN, Texas — While many cities prepare for a busy tourist season during the summer, Austin's comes a little early.
South by Southwest (SXSW) is back in town this week. The festival pumps millions of dollars into Austin's local economy.
The hospitality industry was hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, so this festival couldn't come at a better time.
The Fairmont Austin explained that the spring festival is an incredibly profitable event for hotels.
"We are pacing to be fully committed for the event," said Melissa Farrar, Fairmont Austin's director of communications, adding, "What I tell you today versus two hours from now might change."
Farrar said residents or visitors should keep an eye on the website if they want to book a room because availability could change at a moments notice.
In 2020, SXSW became one of the pandemic's first causalities. Last year was the first year that SXSW was back to "normal" and held an in-person festival since the closure.
Last year, the festival brought around $280.7 million in economic impact, according to SXSW's economic impact report. Compared to 2019, with the economic impact being closer to the tune of $355.9 million, 2022 looked like a drop in the bucket to Austin's economy.
Some say that this year is on track to exceed pre-pandemic levels of economic impact. Farrar said that for last year, occupancy rate during the festival was around 75%. This year, the Fairmont Austin has already surpassed that and are on track to beat 2019.
"I started here three years ago, so just each year getting bigger and better with what we're able to offer guests," Farrar said. "But also just seeing the city and all these things coming to the city and just seeing Austin transition into such a destination, having, you know, international flights coming here, just a lot more recognition of Austin."