Lions, tigers and bears – plus an economic boon

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In the 30 years since the Fort Worth Zoo’s debut as the “New Zoo in ’92,” there have been countless improvements, honors, milestones, and accomplishments.

But along with the recognition, there’s one significant achievement that hasn’t received as much attention: the zoo’s economic impact for the city of Fort Worth.

The zoo’s average annual economic impact for 2021 and 2022 is $228.5 million, including direct and indirect expenses, according to zoo officials.

The $228.5 million figure was calculated by averaging the zoo’s 2021 economic impact of $212.4 million – down from typical numbers due to pandemic disruptions – and $244.5 million. million dollars projected as the zoo’s economic impact in 2022.

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The economic impact forecast for 2022 was based on conservative assumptions related to the slowing U.S. economy, officials said.

The economic impact analysis includes expenditures at the zoo; visitor spending on accommodations, gas, restaurants, shopping and other entertainment; capital improvements at the zoo; and marketing.

Of the $212.4 million spent in 2021, visitors spent about $67 million at the zoo and more than $111 million on hotels, restaurants, shops, other attractions and gasoline. An additional $28.9 million was spent on capital improvements and $5.3 million on marketing.

The 2022 forecast indicated that $72.5 million of the projected total of $244.5 million would be spent directly at the zoo. Visitors are expected to spend more than $125.8 million on hotels, restaurants, stores, other attractions and gasoline. In addition, $40.7 million has been budgeted for capital improvements and $5.4 million for marketing.

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“When families visit the Fort Worth Zoo, they also spend time eating, sightseeing and often staying the night,” said Fort Worth Zoological Association President Ardon Moore. “Our studies show that nearly 40 percent of zoo visitors eat at restaurants in Fort Worth, and the average family of four spends about $78 dining out.

“Additionally, 28% of zoo visitors shop and spend time at local stores and other tourist spots, which makes a family spend about $180 when they’re here in town,” Moore said.

With its national reputation for excellence, the Fort Worth Zoo is helping to boost tourism in the city, according to Bob Jameson, president and CEO of Visit Fort Worth.

“Having one of the top-ranked zoos in the country is a huge boost for tourism and our mission is to raise awareness of the city as a travel destination,” Jameson said.

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According to research by Visit Fort Worth, visitors to the zoo also explore other parts of the city, including Fort Worth’s stockyards, Sundance Square and the Cultural District.

“Zoo visitors are a significant part of the $2.6 billion visitor economy,” Jameson said.

In addition to visitor spending at the zoo and beyond, the zoo’s economic impact supports approximately 2,800 jobs, directly and indirectly. In 2021, the zoo supported 2,639 jobs and is expected to support 2,904 in 2022.

The zoo’s economic impact also includes substantial tax revenue for the city and other local taxing entities, including Tarrant County, Fort Worth Independent School District, Tarrant County College, and Tarrant County Hospital District.

The city received $6,161,351 in tax revenue in 2021 and is expected to receive $7,120,795 in 2022.

Other tax entities recorded combined tax revenues of $7,150,502 in 2021 and are expected to receive $8,927,750 in 2022.

The combined impact on Fort Worth’s tax revenue was $13.3 million in 2021 and an anticipated $16 million in 2022.

Zoo officials noted that spending by visitors outside the zoo generates significantly more tax revenue for the city than spending inside the zoo.

For every dollar of tax revenue generated at the zoo, about $6 to $7 is spent on hotels, restaurants and stores, according to zoo officials.

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