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How Much Does Tourism Matter To San Antonio And Texas?

Brandon Watts | https://www.flickr.com/photos/wattsbw2004/6819759428

San Antonio is already known around the world as top tourist destination, but what does the city need to grow in this capacity and why does it matter? 

Hospitality in the Alamo City contributed at least $13.6 billion to the local economy in 2015, according to data reviewed by the city. The industry is divided into four sectors: restaurants and catering (51 percent of 2015 economic impact), lodging (22.5 percent), travel and transportation (13.9 percent), and entertainment and recreation (12.5 percent).

There were nearly 30 million visitors to Bexar County in 2015. The industry's impact has more than quadrupled since 1990 and its economic impact increased at least 50 percent since 2005.

As of 2016, 1 of every 8 workers in San Antonio was employed by the hospitality industry. Across the state, 1 in 10 jobs are supported by travel, according to the Texas Travel Industry Association.

Lawmakers halved the state's budget for tourism marketing and research last year. 

This month, City Council gave preliminary approval for a citywide "tourism public improvement district" like those already in place in Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington.

The proposal calls for guests to be charged an additional 1.25 percent hotel fee on top of the current 16.75 percent occupancy tax, based on nightly room rates in hotels and lodging facilities with more than 100 rooms.

The current tax is split between the City of San Antonio (7 percent), Bexar County (1.8 percent), the state (6 percent) and the Convention Center (2 percent). 

How could an increased hotel fee benefit San Antonio? How will the revenue be allocated? 

In ways can the city improve to accommodate more visitors and conventions? Why should San Antonio residents care about its tourism industry?

How does San Antonio factor into the state's tourism economy? How do we compare to other Texas cities? What are the challenges and opportunities for touristry in San Antonio?


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Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.