SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio's convention and tourism industry is finally starting to recover from a year and a half crash that led to over 300 event cancellations and nearly half a billion dollars in lost revenue.
"This is the place to be. It's the best convention city in the state of Texas," says Joe Martin, executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, which is conducting its annual convention here through Tuesday.
The association brought a record crowd of nearly 14,000 coaches and administrators to San Antonio.
"It's been awesome," says Mark Soto, head football coach at Johnson High School. "To be able to see this many folks in San Antonio has been great."
The coaches are filling downtown hotels and jamming restaurants, spending money that generates much-needed tax revenue.
"San Antonio is our coaches' favorite city," Martin says. "Not being able to be here last year really made this special this year."
Suddney the future for the hospitality industry looks bright.
"We sure hope this is a harbinger of things to come," says Richard Oliver, director of partner and community relations for Visit San Antonio. "San Antonio has rebounded so much better than most destinations."
Even more growth is expected next year before a full return to normalcy in 2023.
"It's that business component, the meetings, that's been kind of the trouble spot for us," Oliver says.
You wouldn't know it from the coaches who are bringing downtown to life again. They're filling 9,000 rooms in 19 hotels through Tuesday.
"There's no replacing being face to face and bringing 14,000 coaches into one city," says Ron Rittiman, athletic director and head football coach at Alamo Heights High School.
"San Antonio might be the best host city for something like this of anywhere."
There are another 32 conventions scheduled here for the rest of this year. They are expected to pump more than $120 million into the local economy.
To see a full list of the conventions, click here.
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