Travel professionals and media were invited to find their inspiration in Texas yesterday, with a series of destination updates from several delegates representing the Lone Star State.
With 416,000 arrivals in 2012 alone, Canada is second only to Mexico as the largest source of international arrivals for Texas, said Debra Bustos of the State of Texas Economic Development and Tourism department. Of those Canadian travellers, Ontario residents led the pack with 195,500 arrivals, followed by Alberta (87,400), British Columbia (45,700) and Quebec (37,400). Both Air Canada and WestJet provide daily service to the state, she added.
With plenty of opportunities for travellers to experience the arts and culture, live music, fine dining, tax-free shopping and sports activities throughout the state, here are some of the highlights from the lunch event:
The ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ the city of Austin also features a burgeoning culinary scene in addition to its 200 live music venues and 300 days of sunshine, said Linda Moore, Tourism Sales Manager, Austin CVB. The Austin Picnic area hosts dozens of food trailers, offering fare from surf and turf to five star dining and even gourmet donuts. For sports fans, Austin also offers plenty of golf courses and will be the host city for the annual X Games extreme sports tournament over the next four years.
The city where ‘Big Things Happen’ will see the opening of the Texas Horse Park next month, said Meg Gould, Tourism Sales Manager, Dallas CVB. Giving travellers and Texans alike the opportunity to enjoy the Western experience near an urban centre, the park is located only ten minutes from downtown Dallas. Connecting the city is a new light rail system, carrying travellers from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to the city’s downtown, said Gould.
Epitomizing the Western experience often associated with Texas, the 800,000 annual visitors to Fort Worth are treated to a mix of ‘cowboys and culture,’ said Sarah Covington, PR Coordinator, Forth Worth CVB. Taking place at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., the Forth Worth Stockyards feature the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive, while rodeo displays take place year-round. The city’s cultural district features the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame as well as the Kimbell Art Museum, which houses the only work by Michelangelo in the Americas, said Covington.
Nestled between Dallas and Fort Worth, the city of Grapevine is noted for its wineries – quite the distinction for a city in the fifth-largest wine producing state. Of the state’s 250 wineries, Rosalyn Hunter of Texas Tourism said that eight are located in Grapevine. The city also hosts the Grapefest event every September – the largest wine festival in the southwestern U.S., said Hunter – featuring wine trail events and more.
The state’s fourth largest city, Houston is quickly becoming a destination for foodies as the city’s reputation for fine dining grows, said Juan Forteza of Texas Tourism. In addition to the downtown’s many restaurants, Houston’s numerous professional sports teams offer visitors the chance to take in a game, while Space Center Houston gives guests the chance to learn more about NASA’s programs. With several cruise lines departing from the city, many pre- or post- excursions are also offered in Houston, Forteza added.
Simon Shopping Destinations
In addition to the many shopping opportunities offered across Texas, Jana Griswold of Simon Shopping Destinations said that the company also offers plenty of attractions for visitors at its various retail locations across the state. In addition to events like fashion shows and Christmas displays, plenty of family activities are also featured at the company’s locations (divided into malls, mills and premium outlets) such as the Discovery Centre at Grapevine Mills, which features Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium, noted Griswold.
Combining an urban and rural experience in one location, Krystal Jones of the San Antonio CVB explained that there’s more to the city than the Alamo. While the famed location – one of five Spanish colonial missions in the city, all of which are nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status for 2015 – continue to draw visitors, the landscapes of Texas’ Hill Country are also accessible to travellers looking to explore the countryside. Seasonal attractions include the lighting up of the city’s 15-mile RiverWalk feature for the holidays, as well as Fiesta held in April, which consists of more than 100 events and parades that help raise funds for the city’s charities. Fifty golf courses, including two pro courses, are also located in San Antonio, said Jones.
PHOTO: (From left) Rosalyn Hunter, Director of Communications, Texas Tourism/VoX International; Linda Moore, Tourism Sales Manager, Austin CVB; Jana Griswold, Simon Shopping Destinations; Sarah Covington, PR Coordinator, Forth Worth CVB; Debra Bustos, Economic Development and Tourism, State of Texas; Meg Gould, Tourism Sales Manager, Dallas CVB; Krystal Jones, San Antonio CVB; Juan Forteza, Account Director, Texas Tourism/VoX International.