Texas Tourism brought three of its regional partners to Vancouver to share destination knowledge with members of the media at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia last week. Represented in Canada by VoX’s International, the luncheon was hosted by Rosalyn Hunter, director of communications based in Toronto.
“Texas is a diverse destination. We have seven regions for visitors to explore and we have everything from cuisine, wine, shopping, birding, cruising, the great outdoors, and of course the cowboy country,” Hunter explained in her presentation entitled “What I Like about Texas”. There is good value for money - hotels are competitively priced, there are free days at many museums, and our City Pass programs offers discounts at many attractions.”
Although 2017 numbers are not yet finalized, Hunter did share 2016 statistics - 498,500 Canadians visited Texas, representing a 10 per cent increase over 2015, with Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta being the top markets. Chances are, many more Canadians will be heading to Texas on Air Canada, as shown in the slides of Chris Geraghty, AC’s Key Account Manager.
With close to 9,000 air seats per week, AC operates the most flights between Canada and Texas - from Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Up to 15 flights depart for Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio on a daily basis. The Vancouver-Dallas route is served by a daily flight on the CRJ-900 aircraft, with an afternoon departure and an early morning return, making it a perfect long weekend getaway.
In her presentation, Celia Morales of Visit Houston confirmed that it is business as usual after hurricane Harvey in late August 2017. “The attractions and hotels in Houston were not severely affected by Harvey. Everything is back to normal, and we are asking you to keep your business in Houston.” By “business”, Morales means the variety of offerings the fourth largest American city has to offer - 18 museums close to downtown, a 10,000-restaurant culinary scene, tax free shopping for visitors, NASA Space Center, Galveston cruise port, and the world’s largest rodeo. “Houston is a city that inspires you.” Morales added.
Sean Doerre introduced the group to Fredericksburg - a community with Texas heart and German soul, as it was settled by Germans in the 1840s.
In Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is one hour from Austin and San Antonio. Its main street has over 150 shops, galleries and restaurants serving regional cuisine to German and Bavarian specialties.
The historic district encompasses over 700 preserved structures and features a Pioneer Museum Complex highlighting its German heritage and history. Wine is also a big attraction in the little town of 12,000. Texas has been making wine 150 years longer than California, and Fredericksburg celebrates this fact with 45 vineyards within a short drive, offering tours, tastings and visits with winemakers. Outdoor enthusiasts can visit the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, located 17 miles out of town.
With a pink granite outcrop rising 1,825 feet above sea level - the second largest in the United States - hiking and rock climbing are popular activities, with spectacular wildflowers covering the hills in Spring time. Website: VisitFredericksburgTX.com
Katherine White represents another hidden Texan gem - Lubbock. Known most famously as the birthplace of Buddy Holly, the city is currently building a 220,000 square-foot center of performing arts campus named after the late rock and roll legend, which is scheduled to open in 2020.
Music is certainly big in Lubbock - the city has more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in Texas - but agri-tourism here is just as impressive. 90 percent of Texan wine grapes are grown within 100 miles of Lubbock, as is close to 25 percent of the country’s cotton. This combination of arts, entertainment, farming and ranching makes Lubbock an interesting weekend getaway. Website: VisitLubbock.org
Other notable events in Texas include the tri-centennial celebration of San Antonio, with events and festivals throughout the year(sanantonio300.org), and the 40th anniversary of Dallas TV series which will host exclusive fan events in Dallas and Southfort Ranch.
More information on Texas can be found at www.traveltexas.com.