Love What You’ve Got
Unique draws bring tourists to your town
It must be fun to market Texas communities for tourism. The job allows you to tell the story of your community and your neighbors, and provides the opportunity to talk about the beauty, prosperity and simple wonders that exist around us in this great state.
Texans aren’t the kind to brag, but they know how to tell a good story. They also know a thing or two about attracting visitors and their related revenue. That might be why so many regions across the state are prospering, and why so many visitors are flocking to our communities to see our natural beauty, our storefronts, museums, beaches and other attractions.
There’s something very Texan and very pioneering about finding the great, hidden qualities around us and crafting a story from it. This month, that’s just what we want to do in Texas Rising — tell stories about ways you and your communities are keeping your economies strong, your work force prosperous, and your streets and businesses filled with visitors. Want to share your story with us? Please e-mail us. We might use it in an upcoming feature.
Texas State Aquarium
Yes, we all know it’s home to beautiful beaches, a world-class aquarium, and a mighty decommissioned aircraft carrier. But Corpus Christi also has become a major center of professional conventions, thanks largely to the work of the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). The bureau touts the area’s large number of meeting areas, more than 9,000 hotel and condo rooms, affordability and a sunny shore that mesmerizes attendees from places that are, well, not Texas. The CVB also helps conference and meeting organizers plan and prepare for events — by providing discount coupons, visitors guides, name badges and media assistance. Talk about serious swag.
An area once populated by cowboys and bandits, today the Texas Hill Country maintains its gentle, natural beauty and serves legions of shoppers, offers outdoor pursuits, and enough crafting, quilting and building opportunities to fill the lifetimes of most hobbyists. But the region’s biggest success might be its burgeoning wine industry. The realization by Hill Country vintners that their communities rest on fertile soil conducive to growing grapes has helped create a $1 billion industry making Texas the nation’s fifth-largest wine-producing state. Texas is home to 280 family-owned vineyards, many of which are located right here in Hill Country. That’s worthy of a toast. For more information, check out The Texas Wine Trail.
It’s one of those small big cities whose legend has reached near-
mythical proportions. But alongside its historical and natural wonder, Amarillo is a hotbed of economic activity. Transportation plays a big role in the Amarillo Economic Development Corp.’s distinguished roll of business amenities, with a major rail hub, an international airport and access to several major highways. Visitors to this area often head over to nearby Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It’s almost as vast and diverse as the region’s economy. In fiscal 2007, the park hosted more than 300,000 visitors, generating more than $1 million for the regional economy through the park alone. For more information, check out the Palo Duro Canyon site.
Larry McMurtry’s bookstore in Archer City
It’s all Texas here. From its rugged surroundings to its hospitable charm, Wichita Falls easily captures the hearts of its visitors through an array of art galleries, museums and performing arts. The Wichita Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau is committed to reminding people just how much fun can be had in this North Texas town, which features a hotbed of antique shopping and outdoors opportunities. Pro-tip: When you’re done soaking in the Texas culture scene in Wichita Falls, head south to Archer City, home of legendary Texas writer Larry McMurtry’s bookstore, which spans five separate buildings throughout the town square. Thousands of visitors flock there each year to not only see his bookstore, but also to see the town that inspired works such as The Last Picture Show.
McAllen / Mission
For organizations seeking a strong business environment and an enjoyable life for its work force, McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley is an obvious choice. But the area also hosts many visitors from around the world for its annual McAllen International Travel Show, which showcases hot destinations all over the world to more than 14,000 people over a two-day period in January.
It isn’t enough for the area to just prosper in agriculture. Valley residents also celebrate the source of their revenue.
That’s why if you’re in the area, you should be sure to head over to nearby Mission for the annual Texas Citrus Fiesta, an annual homage to Texas-grown oranges and grapefruit, and experience the colorful Parade of Oranges, a 5K run and costume show.
In some parts of the world, they’re dangerous pests. In West Texas, rattlesnakes are considered prime revenue (and, we might add, delicious when fried). Every March, the city of Sweetwater hosts its Rattlesnake Roundup. Since 1958, the event has captured the minds of visitors from all over the world. Organized by the Sweetwater Jaycees, the event features a parade, snake handling show, barbecue cook-off and more than 30,000 visitors each year.
Hill Country: Hill Country vineyards, including Grape Creek in Stonewall (pictured) have found great success turning Texas-grown grapes into palatable wines.
Amarillo: Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Sweetwater: Rattlesnakes draw thousands to Sweetwater’s annual roundup.