Country Music Television set to become another hot tourist weekend, promoting economic benefit for Austin

Molly McIlhinney, General news reporter

On Nov. 2, country star Kelsea Ballerini joined Carrie Underwood on stage during her concert at the Moody Center to announce the Country Music Television Awards’ move to Austin after a two decade run in Nashville.

The CMT Awards is country musics’ only annual award show determined by fans’ votes. According to Tom Noonan, CEO of Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, besides cementing Austin’s role as Live Music Capital of the World, the CMT Awards are also expected to help boost Austin’s economy, filling bars, restaurants and hotels. 

“People are going to come into town for probably three days,” Noonan said. “So I see a lot of our local businesses, a lot of our local venues, a lot of our local restaurants are going to benefit from having the CMTs in town. Very much like what we see for an ACL kind of weekend.” 

For reference, in 2021, the Austin City Limits music festival generated $369 million in economic activity for the city, according to KVUE.

Joseph Hauck, a human dimensions of organizations senior, expressed his excitement for the move, saying he believes the award show will also help give Austin the attention it deserves as a hub for country music and help local musicians, like himself, with marketing. 

“I feel like it’s a huge honor. Because that means we’re on their radar, and I think it’ll bring a lot of good with it,” Hauck said. “(There will be) more people doing original music around town and that’ll lead people to come see bands that are on the rise, so that could bring more people into Austin. I think it’ll bring a lot more people.”

According to Michael Owens, vice president of programming at the Moody Center, CMT and Paramount considered moving the award show to Austin’s new arena while it was still being constructed.

“The conversations with the folks at Paramount and CMT really began long before the arena was even open,” Owens said via email. “With help from many local constituents, including Visit Austin, we were able to make a compelling case that Austin would really embrace this event, and reignite the country music spirit that has helped put this city on the global map as a destination for music.”

The CMT Awards are set to take place April 2, leaving Austin and its vendors ample time to prepare for patrons, 50%-60% of whom Noonan says often come from out of town.

“This is one of those moments that reinforces the live music brand for us,” Noonan said. “You know this is a fan base award show, so these are the acts fans love and they are going to be watching on TV, so it’s going to be great for pumping up our economy.”