Celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week
Celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week
Travel: Then and Now
By Betty Hukill
Chairman, Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors
This week, Abilene joins Texas and the nation to mark the 35th annual National Travel & Tourism Week. The theme, “Travel Then and Now,” highlights the industry’s long history of supporting jobs, businesses and livelihoods.
Join us to celebrate this week by digging up your old travel photos and competing in Visit Abilene’s social media photo contest. Post them to Visit Abilene’s Facebook pinned post about the contest – in the comments, and hastag #VisitAbilene and #AbiTravelWeek for Instagram pages. Let’s have some fun. It’s a great thematic choice for a community like Abilene, where we value our heritage and spin it into gold.
On Wednesday, the ACVB will honor local Heroes of Tourism with the annual HOT Host awards. This gathering celebrates all the local people who have taken on the hard work of bringing meetings and events to town, thus growing our Hotel Tax (HOT) kitty. It will include artists and athletes, business men and horsewomen. It’s a great group of community boosters.
They’re worth celebrating. Travel to the Storybook Capital of Texas has grown to support 4,000 local jobs. It contributed $455 million to our city’s economic health in 2017. We’ve invested a great deal in our downtown, Expo Center, zoo and convention center. We want them to thrive.
Lucky for us, Texas is one of the top places people like to visit. In 2017, the travel and tourism industry continued to drive our state’s diverse economy. According to Governor. Abbott’s Office of Economic Development & Tourism, travel in Texas grew for its seventh consecutive year, rebounding from the hit it took during the last recession.
Visitors enriched the Texas economy by a record $74.7 billion in 2017, growing nearly 8 percent over the prior year. Those visitor dollars generated $7 billion for state and local taxes, and that’s great news. The more taxes we can earn from visitors, the less the rest of us must pay.
If you think taxes are too high now, think of what you would pay without the dollars spent by out-of-town guests. Each person in Taylor County would pay $690 more annually to maintain our current level of services. Travel spending affects you, even if you work in another industry.
Indeed, Abilene collected $12.9 million in tax revenue from travelers during 2017 – 12 percent more than 2016. The number crunchers tell us those gains were fueled by visitor spending on highway and air travel, as well as lodging and dining. You see, travelers not only support our small businesses, handy airport, or favorite restaurants, but they spend money at our zoo, attractions and other venues. Travelers support the places that enrich our lives.
Abilene’s success is good for the state of Texas. Tourism to Abilene also contributed $27.9 million to state tax coffers in 2017, an increase of 8 percent over 2016. We hope to hold on to a little bit of those state taxes and re-invest them into a downtown hotel. If that deal works out, it will be an amazing asset for booking both convention business and leisure travelers.
In Abilene, our economy has benefited from the work of one of the most successful Convention & Visitors Bureau in Texas, growing Abilene’s economy with meetings, sports and leisure travelers – each one a niche market that requires strategic salesmanship.
We’re blessed to have a skilled Convention & Visitors Bureau staff advocating for Abilene, ensuring that we grow and maintain an industry that impacts all of us. That’s something to celebrate every day.