|After extensive review of two separate proposals received in accordance with its Request for Quote, The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has announced the potential acquisition and operation of all six of the 35-foot commercial passenger boats known as the Waterway Cruisers by a business out of Waco, Texas effective April 1, 2016, subject to final approvals. The CVB held a Special Meeting, open to the public, on March 16, 2016 to reach the decision.
The selected business, operates the Waco River Charters, LLC and is represented by Principals Michael Wilson and Lisa Spitz. Specific terms of the deal are not yet available until all approvals are reached, but the CVB Board of Directors deemed the selected proposal to offer the most favorable terms available for disposition of the Waterway Cruisers.
The Waterway Cruisers have been in existence since 2004, first beginning as a private operation by Water Taxi, Inc. out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For several years, The Woodlands Development Company owned and operated the boats until the company gifted them, free of charge, to The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau, a nonprofit organization charged with the responsibility to position The Woodlands as a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized destination for leisure, convention and business travel. No property tax funding was ever used in the operation; however the CVB did utilize hotel occupancy taxes. An extensive history of The Woodlands CVB's operation of the Waterway Cruisers as of March 1, 2016 is attached.
The boats have been operated by Brazos Transit District and have been averaging 33,985 riders a year over the past five years, running a schedule of Friday, Saturday and Sundays and special events and holidays. In 2015, the service had 33,193 riders.
The group plans to enhance the Cruisers’ existing service by expanding marketing efforts through private and public events such as sunset dinner cruises, conference activities and celebrations such as birthday parties, reunions, corporate outings, weddings and more.
CVB Chairman Gordy Bunch and CVB President Nick Wolda will update The Woodlands Township Board of Directors at the Wednesday, March 23, 2016 meeting regarding progress with the deal.