Tourism Texas hosted 13 agents at a breakfast briefing this week in Vancouver, bringing the group up to date on the latest tourism offerings in the Lone Star State.
Lea-Ann Goltz of VoX International, which represents Tourism Texas in Canada, brought the group up to speed about the latest tourism statistics.
"In 2016, Texas welcomed 500,000 Canadian visitors, which represented a 10 per cent increase from previous year," Goltz was proud to say. “Even with the lower Canadian dollar, travelers still spent an estimated US$450 million while visiting last year.”
Visitors from BC make up 17 per cent of this number, following Ontario at 38 per cent, and Alberta at 26 per cent. Quebec visitors make up nine per cent and the remainder of the provinces account for the other 10 per cent.
The second largest state in the U.S. by land mass and population, Texas is divided into seven geographical regions, offering visitors a diverse landscape with lots of vacation options, ranging from rodeo, cuisine, arts, nature, music and festivals. The following is a summary of the regions and their top attractions.
Big Bend Country
Named after the bend of the Rio Grande River, Big Bend Country is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. Home to El Paso and Big Bend National Park, available activities include camping, hunting, mountain biking, hiking, river rafting and jeep tours.
Stargazing is also popular, with the McDonald Observatory sitting at almost 6,800 feet above sea level.
The historic Route 66 passes the Panhandle Plains through Amarillo, with 30 miles of road dotted with antique shops and restaurants.
Panhandle Plains is also where you’d find Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the U.S., and the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, where the famous musician was born.
Hill Country is known for its rolling hills, natural beauty, and wineries. The region is home to the state capital Austin, which is the live music capital of the world, with over 250 music venues. Visitors can also take in unique spa experiences and the historic German town of Fredericksburg.
Prairie & Lakes
This region is home to the metroplex of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington. Living up to its slogan of 'Big Things Happen Here,' Dallas boasts more than 200 golf courses, a 19-block arts district and a global food scene.
Arlington hosts big sports with the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys, and Fort Worth shows you the money, literally, where 60 per cent of the nation's currency is printed, at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Texas Motor Speedway, The Stockyard rodeo, and art museums round out the attractions of Fort Worth.
"It's mother nature with a Texan accent," Goltz calls this Eastern region. Like the name implies, Piney Woods is home to lakes, rivers and forests offering vast landscapes, outdoor experiences, charming wineries and breweries.
With more than 1,000 kilometres of shore line, the Gulf Coast is home to the cruise port Galveston, Corpus Christi, and Houston, the most populated city in Texas. The region offers beaches, boating, world class shopping, rodeos, and the NASA Space Center.
South Texas Plains
Texas meets Mexico in this southern region, home to San Antonio, with its famous 15-mile long River Walk of shops and restaurants. Visitors can also explore the Mission Trail by car or by bike, which passes through five missions in the area, including The Alamo.
Air Canada currently has service from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal into Dallas, and service into Houston from Toronto, Montreal and Calgary with partner United Airlines.
Vacation packages to Texas are available through Air Canada Vacations, including car, hotel and activities such as City Passes offering discounts of up to 40 per cent on attractions.