Texas Our Texas
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Yesterday I visited the Dallas Arts District to speak at Travel Rally Day. Travel Rally Day is designed to promote and celebrate the important economic impact that travel and tourism have on our state and local economies and to encourage Texans to travel in Texas. Tourism is one of my priorities as First Lady. It’s an industry that pumps billions into the economy each year. It’s always a pleasure to speak at Travel Rally Day and see the passion and enthusiasm of people affiliated with this industry.
I love the Dallas Arts District — both because of the truly exceptional work being done there and also because it’s the realization of the dreams of an entire community. It wasn’t too long ago that the district was nothing more than a shared vision, an idea about how to best tap into the creative and economic power of Dallas and that region. Decades later, the district stands to show that by coming together, developing a plan and executing that plan with hard work and determination you can achieve something that is truly a success on many levels: economically, spiritually and artistically.
Texas tourism in its own way is a success story not unlike the Dallas Arts District.
As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” The story of Texas tourism is certainly one of success.
In 2011, 208.3 million domestic travelers visited destinations in our state, making it one of the best years for tourism in Texas history.
It gets better.
Total visitor spending in Texas was $63 billion in 2011, a 10 percent increase over 2010 and the highest spending on record.
Now, would Henry Ford consider that success? Certainly progress.
But if his definition of success is “working together”… well, we have that covered, too.
The travel and tourism industry supported more than 530,000 jobs last year. These job spread all across the state from the Gulf Coast to the Plains of West Texas and all points in between. Hundreds of thousands of families have their livelihood, their prosperity directly tied to tourism.
If you want to talk about Travel Matters (the slogan for Texas Tourism), that’s where it really matters.
If you think all those jobs are in the big cities, that’s simply not true. Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting San Angelo and Victoria — two smaller Texas towns that have made a real commitment to preserving the lifestyle and culture that make those places unique.
Those are just two of the dozens and dozens of smaller Texas towns which are working to retain local character and flavor. While there are obvious benefits to the people who live there, it also makes those places a must-see for tourists bringing in untold numbers of people who enjoy the charm and distinctive style of small-town Texas.
And those people come back to Texas…again and again.
There’s a special feeling you get when visiting our state that is hard to capture anywhere else.
And, of course, our top visitor destinations have so much to offer travelers. This year, in fact, will see some exciting new and improved attractions across the state…such as a totally new water park at Sea World San Antonio…a brand-new Pleasure Pier on Galveston Island…and “The Park,” a wonderful new outdoor gathering place in Dallas.
Of course, Texas’ appeal isn’t tied to any one amusement park, one attraction or one city.
Texas’ appeal is spread throughout an industry’s worth of friendly, helpful and talented people working in hotels, restaurants, museums and any number of other capacities.
Our state has been abundantly blessed with great natural beauty. Our weather that may trend a little warm at times but is generally pretty nice and we have locations rich with culture and history.
However, it’s our friendly Texas nature and our welcoming attitude that may be our biggest blessings of all.
People come to Texas because of our attractions and they come back because of our people.
That’s important because every year we face the renewed challenge of competition from other states. Many of these states sink significant state resources into marketing and promoting their destinations.
Texas does have significant advantages over most of them. Honestly, how many states can offer beaches, the Alamo and the Texas Rangers, all within a few hours’ drive? However such advantages don’t last long without having the people in place to make each and every visit a pleasure.
That’s why Texas is, and will remain, indebted to the hard-working men and women of our hospitality industry.
Did you know that Texas generates $7 in state taxes for every $1 spent on out-of-state advertising.
Again, Travel Matters!