In an effort to bolster the city’s tourism industry, the Denison Area Chamber of Commerce announced the hiring of Melanie Truxal as its newly-created director of marketing and tourism in 2016. One year later, the chamber said that move has started to bear fruit.


Under this role, Truxal has spent the last year working on creating promotional information and other materials for conventions, conferences and groups looking to bring events to Denison. Interim Chamber President Shelle Cassell referred to these materials as the “toolbox” the chamber uses in raising awareness of what Denison has to offer visitors.


“It has actually been very exciting to see how much a person dedicated to those tasks can do,” Cassell said. “Her main goal is to bring people into the community for the night so they will use our hotels and visit our restaurants and amenities.”


The marketing and tourism director position was created last year using revenue created by a digital billboard that was created in partnership with the Denison Development Alliance. Prior to the creation of the position, these duties were performed by former Chamber President Anna McKinney, who resigned in late 2016 amid internal investigations.


“When you have your attention split between so many projects, it is hard to see results,” Cassell said.


Truxal recently attended the Texas Travel Counselors Conference in Amarillo. This is the first year that the chamber has attended the conference and fair, featuring booths and information from cities across the state.


Despite this being the city’s first year to participate, Truxal said many of the other representatives present were excited to see Denison represented and attending the event.


Truxal and representatives for area hotels also went to Austin earlier this year for the Southwest Showcase, an annual gathering of meeting planners, exhibition managers and other representatives. At the event, Truxal said many of the hotel representatives were asked for requests for proposals for future events and conferences.


“Through this, we are able to get face to face with groups that are looking at event centers to hold their conferences and gatherings,” Truxal said.


Both Truxal and Cassell said these efforts might not immediately show results, but noted that they are vital for continued growth in the tourism industry. Despite interest, Truxal said it might be two years or more before an interested group is able to come to Denison.


“A lot of the time, these groups know where they will be for the next one to two years and are scouting three to four years out,” she said. “These events are about building that initial trust.”


Looking ahead at confirmed events, Truxal said the month of April is already looking promising for local tourism with many attractions coming to town. Among these are several fishing tournaments along Lake Texoma, including one over the weekend, and a gathering of the Jefferson Highway Association later this month.


Later this year, Truxal said the city is slated to host the U.S. Navy Band when it comes to Denison in October. Cassell said she has also been in discussions with a drone hobbyist group who is interested in holding a conference in Denison.


“We are not sure how that will pan out, but it is a fun idea,” she said.


The biggest attraction, however, will likely occur in 2018 when the Chamber helps organize a wine festival to coincide with the Texoma Craft Beverage Alliance. Truxal said the event will occur alongside the normal events of the Texoma Craft Beverage Conference, which will be held in June. When asked for details about the event, Truxal said it was too early in the planning process to comment.