03 APR 2017: A long-time sun-seekers sunny spot just got a little closer. Recently the State of Texas, alongside a team of Texas tourism partners, and the state’s Canadian PR agency VoX International hosted a breakfast media briefing to showcase the big news from the Lone Star State.

The biggest news is the new year-round Air Canada direct service to San Antonio scheduled to take-off on May 1 from Toronto, with two other hubs: Montreal to Dallas starting daily nonstop service on May 25 and the new Vancouver to Dallas air route service which launched in February.

Rosalyn Hunter, director of communications for Texas Tourism Office in Canada for VoX International, provided an overview relaying the strong incentives to travel to Texas - from lush landscapes and coastlines, to a thriving culinary scene and award-winning wineries, to golf courses and cowboy culture, and more.

“We have exciting and enticing vacation options for every type of traveller,” she said on the diverse products available across the seven regions in this “seven-places-all-in-one” destination.

On the culinary front Hunter said, “BBQ is a religion” in the state. On the alcohol and spirits side, she noted Texas is considered the fifth largest wine producing state in America with over 180 wineries including over 80 craft breweries across Texas as well as distilleries.

For golf and spa clients, she noted Texas boasts over 750 golf courses and countless spa resorts as well.

According to the latest tourism arrival numbers Canadians comprise the second largest source of international visitors visiting Texas. Statistics Canada reports nearly half a million (453,000) Canadian visitors enjoyed the southern state in 2015.

Here’s a Texas snapshot:

Visit San Antonio 

San Antonio the once remote settlement next to a serpentine river is now a classic cultural gem, home to one of America’s top tourist destinations, the San Antonio River Walk.

Away from busy Dallas and Houston, this historic hub thrives on its rich heritage that’s evident from the old Alamo as well as home to one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States, San Fernando Cathedral.

Gem venue worth sussing out:

The Queen of San Antonio hotels has reopened. San Antonio’s first true luxury hotel, The St. Anthony has set trends, hosted celebrities and left an indelible mark on the city since 1909. Always the place to see and be seen, The St. Anthony which reopened in 2015 is the subject of legend and lore, with famed stories that make a stay here all the more intriguing.

Things you can only do in San Antonio:

• Head to a Mariachi Mass in one of the oldest cathedrals in the US

• Overnight at The Hotel Emma and tap into the dining scene with the hotel’s culinary concierge. The 146-room boutique hotel’s architecture and interiors marry the historic building’s industrial aesthetic with South Texas luxury.

• Conveniently located next door to the Hotel Emma check out the C.I.A. This one is famous for culinary (it’s the Culinary Institute of America) and register for a culinary boot camp. -Morgan’s Wonderland, a free amusement park, created by a local tycoon in honour of his disabled child will open a new splash park in spring. Morgan’s Inspiration Island is considered as the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park.

The nutshell:

San Antonio might feel abandoned with all the ‘old’ but repurposing is ongoing turning derelict buildings into chic new business and residential lofts. More laidback than other Texas cities with a big Latin ambiance, San Antonio is now prepping for its 300th anniversary in 2018. For details see www.celebrate2018.com

Visit Lubbock 

In a 1-hour flight from Dallas you can encounter a world of wine, western, and an arts scene worth bragging about in the birthplace of Buddy Holly. Besides, how could you not love a town named for a Texas Ranger?

Trendy area worth sussing out:

An arts scene evident in the coolest places…like Texas Tech, home to 100 pieces on campus, its rated among the top 10 public university art collections in the US.

Things you can only do in Lubbock:

Hail to Buddy Holly. The legendary Rock’n’Roll singer who died in a tragic plane crash in 1959 has legions of fans paying homage every year to see memorabilia and artifacts on display at the Buddy Holly Center (www.buddyhollycenter.org) and at his gravesite filled with guitar picks left by adoring fans. See his glasses salvaged from the crash site on display at the centre.

80 percent of Texas grapes, reports Holly Russell, director of marketing and communications with Visit Lubbock, (she’s named after singer Buddy Holly) are produced in this wine region. One of the best places to explore the vineyards of Texas is to visit a husband and wife winemaking duo who have cellars across the street from each other. The McPherson’s are a wine dynasty in Texas.

Stop by McPherson Cellars helmed by winemaker Kim McPherson whose family’s been in the grape biz for over 40 years. His dad has been hailed as the ‘godfather of the modern Texas wine industry.’ Kim’s wife Sylvia who is Spanish-American meanwhile owns La Diosa cellars which is an arts-infused bistro featuring Spanish-inspired cuisine like gazpacho, hosts Sunday jazz brunches, and yes, has wine.

Hike a trail that has 12,000 years of history uncovered on the Southern High Plains. The Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark  boasts archaeological finds and other discoveries at this active archaeological dig.

The nutshell:

Okay its 263 days of sunshine but who’s counting in this compact town revered as “the top western town” by True West Magazine. “It beats Dallas and Houston,” grins Russell on Lubbock’s huge western-ess.


Visit McAllen
 

In about a 1-hour flight from either Houston or Dallas gets you to this Texas hub, a nature paradise home to the state’s HUGE birding area and close to a coastline rife with beaches by San Padre Island.

No wonder as Trisha D. Watts, communications director and convention sales manager with Visit McAllen, confides her region is a favourite for Canadians especially in winter with the arrival of snowbirds. (lingo for Canadians enjoying extended stays in sun regions). “We like to call them Winter Texans,” she smiles.

New venue worth sussing out:

See the new McAllen Performing Arts Centre which opened in November, 2016.

Things you can only do in McAllen: From the last tally of bird species living in the US 700 bird species have been reported. Now, head to McAllen which is home to over half of them. “We have 523 species,” says Watts adding bird watching is popular in spring and fall in the heart of what the McAllen Chamber of Commerce describes as the, “World Birding Center.”

The nutshell:

Experience lots of sun and the most genuine Southern Texas hospitality.

For more travel information see https://www.traveltexas.com/


Image Above: Team Texas – l to r: Debra Bustos from the Texas Tourism Office and the Office of the Governor; Carina Boukary-Mory, Visit Houston in Canada for VoX International; Ivette Wilhelm with Galveston Island CVB; Celia Morales with Visit Houston; Trisha Watts; Sarah Covington with Fort Worth; Megan Body with Grapevine Texas CVB; Geraldine Periera with VoX International; Rosalyn Hunter; and Holly Russell.

 

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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