AUSTIN, Texas - SXSW attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Movie premieres, big stars, technology showcases, live music. It gets bigger and bigger every year.
Speaking of big check out Austin's newest hotel, The Fairmont the biggest in the city, open just in time for South By.
“We have 1,048 guest rooms including 138 rooms of ‘Fairmont Gold.’ That's a hotel within a hotel on levels 32 through 35,” said Fairmont Director of Sales & Marketing Michael McMahon.
McMahon says SXSW rooms at the hotel are already booked this weekend.
But the Fairmont is expected to increase supply in a city where demand has often been greater. And for those Fairmont guests heading over to the Convention Center for South By, there's the new Red River Canopy Walk.
“The downtown area where there's about 9,500 hotel rooms now that most every week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you can't find a hotel room so we're going to relieve the pressure on that supply and demand imbalance,” McMahon said.
Aside from economics, Bill Manno, the City's Special Events Program Manager was joined by Austin Police, Austin Travis County EMS and others Monday morning to talk about how the city is preparing for SXSW.
This coming Friday, a typically troublesome traffic day as visitors pour into town for South By, the city is pushing “Detour Day,” in other words, don't get on the road unless you really have to be there.
“We’re encouraging businesses, especially downtown businesses to explore options for their employees to come to work either alter their work schedules, telecommuting and also more mass transit options as well,” Manno said.
As always the city will set up a SXSW “Central Command” for monitoring traffic cameras and halo cameras.
“And we have representatives from multiple city departments as well as TABC, FBI, SXSW, Capital Metro present...so anything comes up it can be addressed,” Manno said.
Austin-Travis County EMS will have a patient collection point at 5th and Congress.
“We will have motorcycle medics out and about patrolling, also medics on Polaris rangers that can traverse the crowds and they can crowd extract to our patient collection point,” said Wes Hopkins with EMS.
Austin Police say this year they're bringing their 120-officer “Special Response Team” in even earlier to monitor Sixth Street.
Assistant Police Chief Justin Newsom says drivers need to pay extra attention to pedestrians.
“Make sure that you're looking out for pedestrians that may or may not be looking out for themselves. We all know people come here to party, they come to drink. They come from out of town to have a good time. They're probably not thinking about their own safety in regards to walking,” Newsom said.