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Texas celebrates National Travel, Tourism Week 2017

Tourism industry injects billions into Texas' economy
Written by Lois M. Rodriguez.

jrbTo the traveler, Texas simply is a wonderfully diverse and beautiful playground – one of the most popular destinations in the nation. But May 7 kicks off National Travel and Tourism Week, which celebrates the people behind the scenes of the travel industry while spotlighting the industry’s economic impact. So, for all the fun travelers have in the Lone Star State, the industry thanks you for also playing your part in its success.

The Power of Travel

Travel is a top-10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Spending by travelers everywhere in the U.S., which currently totals more than $947 billion annually, supports 15.1 million American jobs. That’s one in nine Americans whose employment depends on the travel and tourism industry. 

Texas totaled $569.2 billion in travel spending in 2016. Visitor spending directly supported about 671,600 jobs in Texas, including hospitality, transportation, retail and services.

San Antonio, a top Texas destination, hosts 34.4 million visitors a year, which creates about a $13.6 billion boost into the local economy. Travel supports more than 130,796 jobs in San Antonio, contributes more than $195 million in taxes and fees to the city coffers, and more than $375 million to local governments, which helps fund river improvements, amateur sports facilities, community arena, cultural arts and historic preservation. With tourism cited as a major contributing factor, the city is continually named one of the most recession-proof cities in the U.S.

Travel Information Centers

The Centers are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, but also offer free Wi-Fi, 24-hour security surveillance, 24-hour restrooms, and covered picnic tables. Visitors can receive help with routings and information on points of interest, events and road conditions. Additionally, the centers carry a host of TxDOT travel literature, including the Texas State Travel Guide, Texas Official Travel Map, Texas Public Campgrounds and Texas Events Calendar, as well as maps, pamphlets, booklets and brochures from local and statewide destinations, points of interest, special events, lodging and restaurants.

This year's National Travel and Tourism Week theme is "Faces of Travel." Those faces include hotel, restaurant, attraction, retail, airline and other employees that support those businesses. While enjoying your travels, here are a few opportunities to meet some of those faces.

Midland plans a four-day celebration including a ground-breaking ceremony for a state-of-the-art convention center on May 10.

Along with lawn games and refreshments, the Visit Midland Information and Travel Center will kick off it’s week, May 8, with a discussion about tourism’s impact. They also will be passing out giveaways and snacks to travelers at Midland International Air and Space Port from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on May 9.

Dee-dee Guerra, Executive Director of the McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau says, “Our ultimate goal each year in observing National Travel & Tourism Week is to increase McKinney residents’ knowledge of all our city has to offer. We want to help our locals become better-educated ambassadors for our city so they’ll be even better prepared to share the complete McKinney experience with visiting family and friends,” said Dee-dee Guerra, Executive Director of the MCVB.

Among other activities throughout the week, McKinney will host a Travel Rally Day on May 10 featuring KLAK Radio’s Johnny B from 4-6 p.m., including prizes and drawings. They also will launch a new Visit McKinney smartphone app and web widget that will let you plan itineraries and create maps. The CVB has welcomed visitors from all 50 states as well as 61 countries.

Here are more National Travel and Tourism Week activities at the TxDOT Travel Information Centers and in communities across the state.

TEXAS TRAVEL INFORMATION CENTERS

This year’s National Travel and Tourism Week coincides with the 100th Anniversary of The Texas Department of Transportation, which also operates Texas Travel Information Centers at entry points across the state. The centers, operated year-round with professional travel counselors, will be inviting local attractions and community representatives to meet with visitors and offer more information during National Travel and Tourism Week.

As part of its centennial, TxDOT also will have a travelling exhibit of a refurbished 1918 Liberty Truck and a time capsule including items used in the agency’s century-long history. It'll make an appearance in the Gainesville and Denison Texas Travel Information Centers this week.

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Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, May 6

Step into the West of the Pecos Historical/Travel Fair featuring historic buildings, historic characters sharing stories of the past, ranching demonstrations, old west re-enactments, prehistoric Native American artifacts, as well as representatives from area chambers of commerce and attractions.

Texas Travel Information Center - Denison, May 8

Stop by to check out TxDOT's historic Liberty Truck and learn about its fascinating history.

Texas Travel Information Center - Anthony, May 9

Along with the certified Texas Travel Counselors, visitors will be able to meet with representatives from area attractions. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about what El Paso and the state has to offer visitors. 10 a..m-1 p.m.

Find the Texas Travel Counselors at Destination El Paso’s Travel Fair, May 10, at El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza downtown.

Texas Travel Information Center - Orange, May 10

Local tourism partners, convention and visitors bureaus, and chambers of commerce will come together at the Center to offer an abundance of information to the travelers who stop by.

liberty truck 55Texas Travel Information Center - Gainesville. May 10

The 1918 Liberty Truck, along with other antique cars from the Gainesville Car Club, will be on display as part of the Travel Information Center's May 10 Travel Rally Day.

Visitors to the Gainesville travel information center also will enjoy activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as opportunities to meet representatives from Denton, Frisco, Grapevine, Garland, Greenville, Gainesville, Grand Prairie, Muenster, Texoma, Texas Parks and Wildlife/Lake Ray Roberts State Park, Weatherford and Whitesboro.

Capitol Visitor Center - Austin, May 11-12

Aaron Friar, with Texas Parks and Wildlife, will be on hand to greet visitors and share information about Texas parks. The following day, Charlotte McDaniel, with the LBJ National Historical Park, will be on hand to offer information about the park to visitors.

Texas Travel Information Center - Waskom, May 12

Join the 2017 Travel Rally Day Celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week at the Texas Travel Information Center in Waskom. Area chambers of commerce, Texas State Parks, attractions and more will be on site to promote the region’s highlights. 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Texas Travel Information Center - Wichita Falls, May 12

You can always count on Travel Counselors to fill you in on all things Texas. So, visit the Wichita Falls Travel Information Center with your travel questions. As a bonus, representatives from Grand Prairie will be on hand sharing information and offering giveaways.

Texas Travel Information Center – Rio Grande Valley/Harlingen, May 13

From 9 a.m. to noon, area attractions and chambers will be on site to help visitors maximize their stay.

Capitol Visitor Center - Austin, May 13

Join the Texas travel counselors for a National Tourism Day expo.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

AMARILLO

First Friday Art Walk, May 5

Monthly event draws hundreds to meet local artists and listen to local musicians from 5-9 p.m. at The Galleries at Sunset Center. Amarillo CVC staff will be in the Center City Corral.

Museum Day, May 6

Seven participating museums have special admission offers, plus there’s an opportunity to win an iPad. Participants include: Amarillo Museum of Art (free poster); American Quarterhorse Hall of Fame and Museum (buy one/get one free admission); Bill’s Backyard Classics (half-price admission); Don Harrington Discovery Center offers (half price admission); Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian (free admission to parents with children, half-price admission to unaccompanied adults); Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum ($5 admission all day); and Texas Air and Space Museum (eligibility for a $25 gift certificate in the TASM Gift Shop).

Texas Panhandle Travel Rally Day, May 12

Visit with more than 20 attractions across the Texas Panhandle at the lTexas Panhandle Travel Rally Day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at TxDOT’s Texas Travel Information Center on I-40 @ Airport Blvd. exit. Free admission.

National Train Day, May 13

Celebrate all things on rails from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Amarillo Railroad Museum. Admission is free, though donations are welcomed. Don’t forget to check out the Madame Queen, a restored 2-10-4 Texas-type locomotive: Corner of SE 2nd & Lincoln Streets. Free admission. Also visit the Buttel Train Museum: 3907 Sundown Lane

AUSTIN

Give Back Gig, May 8

Visit Austin’s inaugural National Travel and Tourism Week event for live music, snacks and drinks from 5-8 p.m. at the Palmer Events Center. Meet Austin’s Faces of Travel honorees and toast to their contributions to our industry. The Give Back Gig includes a silent auction of one-of-a-kind, Austin-inspired canvases from Art from the Streets program featuring works by homeless or formerly homeless artists.

COLLEGE STATION

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, May 10

Free admission in observance of National Travel and Tourism week.

EL PASO

Franklin Mountain State Park Hike Tour, May 6:

Rise and shine to start the week off with an 8 a.m. hike and tour at Franklin Mountain State Park.

Trade Show, Faces of Texas Luncheon and Visitors Day, May 10-12

Destination El Paso’s hosts a Travel Fair on May 10 at El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza downtown, a Faces of Travel luncheon at 11:30 on May 11 and a Visitor's Day at the Visitor Information Center on May 12.

LUBBOCK

Live Love Lubbock Luncheon, May 10

Luncheon, hosted by Visit Lubbock and the Lubbock Hotel Motel Association, honors Lubbock's ambassadors and professionals in the travel and tourism industry. The luncheon, at Llano Estacado Winery, celebrates the recipients of the Tourism Trumpeter Award, the Rising Star Award and the Heart of Hospitality Award. The Tourism Trumpeter Award is given to an individual outside of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry who has made a positive impact on the local industry. The Rising Star Award honors an individual working in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry who, with five years of experience or less, has established recognition, accomplished success and created positive change. The Heart of Hospitality Award honors an individual working in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry who, over an extended time frame, has established recognition, accomplished success and built notoriety.

MIDLAND

VisitMidland National Travel & Tourism Week Celebrations, May 8-10

Join VisitMidland for a four-day celebration of the impact travel and tourism have on the Midland economy.  The celebration kicks off with a May 8 press conference, games on the lawn and refreshments from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the VisitMidland Information and Travel Center.

On Tuesday, May 9, VisitMidland will be at the Midland International Air and Space Port from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. They will be handing out giveaways and snacks as a thank you to travelers for visiting the city.
On Wednesday, May 10, there will be a ground breaking ceremony for the new state-of-the-art Midland Convention Center that will further impact the city’s tourism draw and overall economy.

SAN MARCOS 

Travel & Tourism Week Appreciation Reception, May 10

The San Marcos Convention & Visitor Bureau celebrates those who have helped make San Marcos a thriving tourist destination with a luncheon from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the San Marcos Rec Hall.

At the reception, two exceptional individuals will be awarded special recognition with the Rogers Family Tourism Award and Rogers Family Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award for their continued dedication to promoting tourism in San Marcos. The award recipients will receive a limited-edition piece of artwork representing the Meadows Center, formerly Aquarena Springs.

Glass-bottom Boat Tour Special, May 7

Join The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment - Texas State University at the headwaters of the San Marcos River for an interpretive led tour of Spring Lake on a glass-bottom boat. See underwater springs and abundant wildlife.

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND

South Padre Island Picnic, May 10

Join the National Travel and Tourism Week celebration with a traditional picnic at the South Padre Island Visitors Center. There will be refreshments and music by Leslie Blasing. Tourism partners from South Padre Island and surrounding communities, including Port Isabel, Harlingen and Brownsville, are invited to participate.

TOMBALL

Rails & Tails Mudbug Festival, May 6-7

The City of Tomball celebrates National Travel & Tourism Week by staging its annual Rails & Tails Mudbug Festival at the historic downtown depot at 201 South Elm Street. The two-day celebration includes tasty crawfish, live music, events, food, competitive eating and crawfish racing. Daytripper Chet Garner will be on-site May 6 to meet and greet fans. Free admission and parking.

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