News: Texas travel industry briefs
As 2014 rolls in, Texas Highways, the state’s official travel magazine, is in celebration mode for its 40th anniversary as the publication known for its readership interaction, captivating stories and stunning photography.
The year-long celebrations include monthly destination package giveaways and the incremental unveiling of the Top 40 Texas Travel Destinations, as determined by its readers.
In the January issue, editor Jill Lawless shares how, in May 1974, editor Frank Lively turned a state highway department newsletter into the iconic travel magazine that Texas Highways has become. Just a year after this “showpiece for Texas” was published, the Texas Legislature named it “The Official travel Magazine of Texas.”
“The Texas Department of Transportation created Texas Highways as a way to help boost tourism, which plays such an integral role in the economic success of our great state,” says Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. “Forty years later, we celebrate the magazine that thousands have used as their official travel guide to Texas with a new look that will hit stands.”
Since its beginnings, the publication has undergone many changes. Most recently, with its September issue, when a bold new redesign was launched. More than simply repackaging its previous offerings, the redesigned Texas Highways expands its coverage of out-of-the-way destinations, Texas-made products, adventure travel and family getaways. The magazine also broadens its online presence through social media, online editions and a revamped website offering interactive opportunities to share information, photos, videos and special content.
The Austin Chronicle recognized the changes by presenting a Best New Look for a Publication as part of its Best of Austin awards. The publication described Texas Highways as continuing to “evolve with a new look as it nears its 40th year of documenting the beauty and diversity of Texas. The redesign gives a fresh look to the familiar format.”
Lawless says, “TH’s topics have expanded and our look has transformed over the decades, but true to the Lively legacy, our readers – active and armchair travelers alike – remain our focus, and never more so than as we launch our 40th-anniversary celebrations for 2014.”
TxDOT Travel Division Director Margo Richards says, “We’re very excited about our 40th anniversary and the fresh, new look of Texas Highways. This celebration is dedicated to our loyal readers, advertisers and the quality stories and photographs that tell the tales of Texas in a spirited and unique manner befitting of our great state.
Texas Highways readers were asked in the fall of 2013, to share their picks for favorite Texas travel destination.
“And share you did—by phone, email, Facebook, and through many amazingly detailed letters. Thousands of TH readers helped to shape the final list, which we will divulge throughout 2014, Texas Highways’ 40th-anniversary year,” says TH Editor Jill Lawless.
From the tallied results, many locations have earned a coveted spot as one of the Top 40 Texas travel destinations in the state. The results will be unveiled incrementally from January through December, culminating with the No. 1 Texas travel destination.
In the January issue, the magazine revealed the first wave with readers’ choice for No. 40–36: Lubbock (40), Marble Falls (39), Bastrop (38), Caddo Lake State Park (37) and Houston (36). Considering the number of options across Texas, TH editor contend that every location that makes this list are winners.
Visit www.texashighways.com/txtop40 to see what readers had to say about the locations and for ongoing countdown updates.
TxDOT’s Texas Travel Information Centers across the state have worked steadily to supply travelers with all the information and assistance they need to travel to and within the state, but they also help bring special attention to travelers’ needs through special events.
On Dec. 12, the Texas Travel Information Center in Denison is hosting its Sober Ride Sleigh event, an hour-long session with local law enforcement agencies and first responders who will help share TxDOT’s message of giving the gift of a sober ride.
Later this month, the Denison Travel Information Center will be offering road-weary travelers the warmth of hospitality and hot chocolate on Dec. 20.
On Dec. 11, the Texas Travel Information Center in Amarillo will be the host site for Texas Winter Wonderland of Events. The Amarillo Lodging Association will provide refreshments, Santa will stop by for a visit (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and toys will be collected for the Evelyn Rivers Toy Drive. Visitors also will receive information about hotel discounts and Panhandle region holiday events.
Later in the month (Dec. 20-23), the Amarillo Travel Information Center will be the site for “Ski Amarillo,” a Safe Travel for the Holidays event that leverages its location – between Dallas and the ski destinations in New Mexico and Colorado – to target those headed to and from the slopes. Along with hotel and holiday discounts, the Amarillo Convention and Visitors Council will offer coffee, cookies, cider and lip balm for chapped, winter lips.
The Texas Travel Information Center in Orange also will host its Safe Travel for the Holidays event on Dec. 20. With a focus on reminding travelers to be safe while traveling for the holidays, the Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau and other travel partners and hotels will set up tables offering treats and attraction information.
From Dec. 20-22, the Travel Information Center in Laredo will be working with the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Mexican Consulate in Laredo for the 16th nnual Migration of Paisanos, a temporary rest stop aimed at reaching the 30,000-plus motorists who will be traveling from Mexico through Laredo daily on those dates. The visitors will be greeted with travel literature and information from customs, border patrol, city police and law enforcement agencies.
Free literature will be offered as a welcome visitors from Mexico.
From September through November, the 12 Texas Travel Information Centers across the state have:
In an agreement with four Guadalupe River property owners, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has negotiated temporary expanded public access to the trout fishery downstream of Canyon Lake.
Recognized as one of the top 100 trout streams in America and the southernmost trout stream in the United States, this segment of the Guadalupe River is accessible at Mountain Breeze Campground, Rio Guadalupe Resort (formerly Rio Raft and Resort) and Whitewater Sports from Friday through March 7. Public fishing access also will be available at Camp Huaco Springs through Feb. 2.
TPWD and the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited manage and stock this segment of the Guadalupe River through special fishing regulations.
The negotiated leases give anglers free access to the Guadalupe River at the four properties from 30 minutes before daylight until 30 minutes after dusk. Anglers will be able to use the properties for bank fishing and to launch non-motorized watercraft such as rafts, kayaks and canoes for the purpose of fishing.
For additional information or directions to the leased fishing access areas, call or visit the following websites.
For information on other river fishing access areas throughout the state, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/rivers.
The official Boquillas Port of Entry crossing, providing access to Boquillas, Coahuila, Mexico, as well as the protected areas of Maderas del Carmen, Ocampo, and Cañon de Santa Elena, started its winter hours of operation on Dec. 4 to accommodate the earlier sunset times occurring this time of year.
Pedestrians can access the port between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Vehicles are not allowed to cross and commercial importation of products is forbidden.
Members of the National Park Service are on hand to assist travelers with information about visiting the area.
After joining the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council as its executive director 14 months ago, Dan Quandt has been promoted as the CVC’s new vice president.
“Dan has made a strong positive impression in Amarillo in just 14 months. So, his promotion at the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council is another step in the right direction for Amarillo’s bright future, ” says Gary Molberg, president of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce .
Quandt, who serves on numerous local, state, regional and national boards and committees, says “I am thrilled to be the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council’s new Vice President. With the outstanding staff at the CVC there is no doubt that only positive things are to come for Amarillo."
In related news, the Amarillo CVC appointed Karolyn Wolfram Foss as the Convention Services Center Manager.
Foss oversees the re-development of the center to offer more business services to conventions, meetings and groups using Civic Center facilities. She also will help increase the retail selection in the center, where visitor information, such as guides, brochures and rack cards continues to be available.
“With the anticipated growth of convention groups coming to Amarillo, this switch makes perfect sense. Karolyn shares this vision and brings great experience to a veteran destination marketing team. We can’t wait to get her input for our ideas,” says Quandt.
The Bastrop/SE Austin/Colorado River KOA Campground has been awarded the 2014 KOA President’s and Founder’s Award by Kampgrounds of America Inc., the world’s largest system of family-friendly campgrounds. The awards were presented Nov. 21 at KOA’s Annual International Convention in Austin.
The KOA Founder’s and President’s Awards are presented annually to campgrounds that receive the highest scores in customer service from their campers, and also receive top scores in KOA’s annual Quality Review.
KOA surveys hundreds of thousands of campers each year regarding their KOA camping experience.