Monday,  January 24, 2022  1:23 am

Texas back in the saddle after Harvey

Texas back in the saddle after Harvey
From left: Chris Radley, account manager, Texas Tourism; Scott Poland, tourism sales manager, Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau; Debra Bustos, economic development & tourism, Office of the Governor; Rosalyn Hunter, director of communications, Texas Tourism.
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

Despite news reports this fall showing the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Texas Tourism is reminding Canadians that the Lone Star State has mostly recovered and is open for business.

PAX recently sat down with the tourism board to discuss developments in the destinations, which continues to draw increasing numbers of Canadians, particularly from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

According to Chris Radley of Texas Tourism, the rebuilding efforts which have taken place since Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25 have seen the city mostly restored to its pre-hurricane condition. While a few neighbourhoods are still yet to fully recover, the majority of affected communities look nothing like the footage shared across the globe earlier this fall.

“Houston is absolutely up and running for business,” Radley told PAX. “Everyone came together and cleaned up everything very quickly. No conventions or groups were cancelled either.”

“We’re getting a lot of Canadians saying that ‘you can’t go to Texas – it got hit by a hurricane!’” added Rosalyn Hunter, director of communications for Texas Tourism. “We need to get that message out that things are fine.”

Radley added that many of the communities along the Gulf Coast - including San Antonio, Corpus Christi and South Padre Island - which draw the 45+ demographic (one of Texas Tourism’s largest markets) were, for the most part, unaffected by Hurricane Harvey.

With a continued increase in direct airlift (including three new routes to Texas launched by Air Canada this year), Texas Tourism is also promoting weekend getaways to travellers as this year’s winter travel season approaches.

“Texas is great for a long weekend and with all of the direct service, it makes it really viable,” Hunter said. “Some might say ‘you can’t go to Texas in a weekend’ but they don’t realize it’s only three hours away.”

Here’s a sampling of what’s new in Texas for 2018:

  • San Antonio marks its 300th anniversary next year and the city is planning on celebrating all year long. San Antonio will host a kick-off for its 2018 Tricentennial on Dec. 31, 2017 with a downtown celebration including entertainment, culture, food and, of course, fireworks.

  • The 30th Annual National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration occurs Sept. 7-9, 2018 and features more than 100 performers and presenters. The annual event celebrates and preserves Western heritage and cowboy culture, as well as hosts the National Championship Chuck Wagon Cook-Off.

  • A new seven-day Texas Independence Tour by Texas Holiday Travel visits Gonzales, Goliad, The Alamo, San Jacinto and Washington on the Brazos. This escorted group tour features the expertise of Dr. Donald S. Frazier, a highly-regarded historian and author in Texas History as its leader and guide. The tour runs Oct. 6-12, 2018.

  • Virgin Hotels will open a 200-room hotel in Dallas’ growing Design District. The $80 million lifestyle hotel will cater to the new, savvy traveller, offering free WiFi, cancellation and late checkout, and a complimentary social hour for guests. It’s the fourth planned Virgin Hotels property in the United States.