Carina Boukary-Mory is cleary happy about repping Visit Houston in the Canadian market!
If there’s one message that came out loud and clear from seven Texas tourism partners and colleagues at a recent breakfast seminar in Toronto is that the Lone Star State is surprisingly diverse. Yes there are cowboys and TexMex and oil tycoons…but there’s also birding, beaches and Beaujolais wine.
“There are actually seven distinct regions in Texas,” the state rep for PR for Canada, Rosalyn Hunter told the group. “And in each the culture, the landscape and the cuisine is different. Barbecue may be a religion in Texas but we have cuisine for every palate.”
One thing the delegation was very pleased to share is the good news from AC, which is adding three new routes to Texas this year alone: YUL and YVR to DFW and YYZ to SAT.
Presentations included a lively one from Ivette Wilhelm of Galveston – clearly her favourite island in the world. Accessible from the mainland by a short causeway and just 40 minutes drive from Houston, Galveston is a great getaway not only for locals but for visitors as well, including those who want to do a pre- or post-cruise stopover. Known for its laid back vibe, stunning Victorian mansions and funky beachfront attractions, Galveston (once the wealthy Wall Street of the South) is great for a family vacation or completely fun weekend-for two.
Houston is also positioning itself as a great choice for a short break. There’s no shortage of festivals and you won’t go hungry: it’s known as the culinary centre of the South. And what a great choice for the museum buff: there are a whopping 18 all within walking distance of the pedestrian-friendly downtown. Clients are counselled to buy a CityPass to stretch their loonies further with reduced rate admissions to several of the city’s most popular attractions.
And for clients seeking a romantic getaway, San Antonio may be just the ticket. With its charming riverside walk full of restos and bars, impressive and historic Missions and year-round celebration of its Spanish/Mexican heritage, San Antonio is a breath of fresh air.
It all sounds so wonderful… I but had to address the elephant in the room. Aren’t tourism officials in Texas (and I would imagine across the nation) anxious about the moving goalposts known as the U.S. Border procedures? Aren’t folks deferring or flat out avoiding travel to the U.S. these days? “Our job is to promote Texas and keep the politics separate – but emotions are running high,” Hunter told me. “Canadians are big travellers so we can only send the message that if you want to come to South by Southwest [the famed annual interactive, music and film festival] or any of our other unique attractions you’ve just got to come to Texas.”