Jennifer Backus, Air Canada & Pilar Florez, Visit Houston
Carina Boukary-Mory introducing the morning event
Margaret Mccabe, ExperdiaCruiseshipCenters. Mexican Loteria winner of a 2 night stay in Houston
Mexican Loteria game card
Houston welcomes 20 million visitors a year, says Pilar Florez, the city’s Director of Tourism. That’s not bad for a city that doesn't necessarily spring to mind as a destination, but not a huge number either, Florez admitted. Particularly when you compare with other more recognizable Texas destinations, like Austin and Houston neighbor San Antonio.
During a recent breakfast gathering hosted by Visit Houston and Air Canada, agents were given plenty of reasons why they should be selling Houston as a leisure destination.
An impromptu survey of the group indicated that none had ever sold Houston for leisure, but Florez expected that. “We know that most of you sell it for business or by request, but we’re here today to change that perception.” She further explained that the city has changed and evolved considerably in the 15 years that she has called it home.
"It’s very diverse, that’s why we have over 10,000 restaurants in Houston," said Carina Boukary-Mory, Canada Representative Tourism, Visit Houston. “Everyone brings their culture, their cuisine. It’s a hidden gem in my eyes. We have all the other cities in America that Canadians go to all the time, but if you want to suggest something off the beaten path, Houston really is a nice choice. With year-round warm weather, for families, for couples, for single travellers, we have something for everybody to offer. "
Dubbed “the smart fun city,” there is plenty to see and do to keep visitors entertained and engaged. The Health Museum, for instance, takes visitors on a journey through the human body. "You enter through the mouth where you learn about the teeth and the tongue, etc., and well, you can guess where you end up to get out," said Florez.
Speaking of fun, Florez delivered her presentation while having agents play a rousing game of Mexican Loteria. With a bingo-style game card and markers in hand, agents had to fill their squares as Florez described several attractions.
Arts enthusiasts can go to the ballet or the symphony; sports fans can see their favourite team take on the local Astros or Rockets; and those looking to bring home some new threads or mementos can take advantage of the TaxFree Shopping Program.
And for something completely unique, how about a lunch date with a real astronaut? Space Centre Houston offers an opportunity to spend time with a NASA astronaut and hear firsthand stories about their time in space while enjoying a meal prepared by the Center’s in-house catering staff. How cool is that?
Whether clients decide to make it a weekend getaway or longer stay, getting to Houston by air is easy. “We’ve got Texas covered,” said Jennifer Backus, Senior Key Account Manager for Air Canada, who was on hand to speak about how the airline connects Canadians to the South.
"With all the cities we have over 100 flights each week between Canada and Houston,” Backus continued. "Clients can fly out of YUL, YYZ and YYC as well as via codeshare service with United Airlines from YVR and YEG. In addition to Houston, Air Canada flies to AUS, DFW and SAT making it the carrier offering the most flights and seats between Canada and Texas.
So, why send clients to Houston? With so many attraction, ease of getting there, affordable entertainment and year-round warm weather, the question is why not?