Tom Noonan with Visit Austin says now tourism is slowly making a comeback, which prompted him to gather with hospitality workers and the Downtown Austin Alliance to have a cleanup day to prepare to welcome back guests to the city, especially its core.
"We will pick up trash, pull weeds, put mulch down, plant fresh flowers downtown. It's obviously been off for the last year and now it's starting to emerge. We are now starting to see tourists come back and we want them to experience a great Austin like they did before the pandemic," said Noonan.
Austin is known for its great food, live music, and hospitality. Without that, Rob Gillette, general manager of the Renaissance Hotel, feels the city would lose its charm.
"Restaurants and hotels are some of the largest employers of the city of Austin, over 140,000 folks work in our industry," said Gillette.
He recalls having to shut down his hotel for three months. "We are back to a great recovery, ramping up. This past weekend we were sold out," he said.
The pent-up demand is certainly there, so a group of 150 volunteers cleaned sidewalks, benches, and more on Tuesday morning to prepare for the influx of summer visitors.
"One can only imagine what it's like to return to a downtown where you're going to see your co workers who you've only seen on a screen," said Matt Macioge, director of operations with the Downtown Austin Alliance.
As COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up, volunteers hope normalcy can be once again, the new normal.