Section I


Think of dude ranches, western clothes, barbecues, and friendly people.  What place comes to mind?

Picture shopping, fine restaurants, a fast, exciting atmosphere.  Now what place comes to mind?

Imagine endless sandy beaches, warm and sunny weather, a relaxed and casual feeling...and still more friendly people. 

What place promises all these things and more?  The answer to all the above...Texas.  It’s Like a Whole Other Country TM.

A tourism image study found these depictions of the Lone Star State to represent those of different out-of-state travel markets to Texas.1  Results of the study found that:

• Visitors from other states especially enjoy Texas' friendly people.

• The State’s exciting historic past and the cultural atmosphere draw frequent visitors to Texas.

• Visitors from Texas' neighboring states appreciate the relaxing beach environment found within Texas' boundaries.

• Visitors to Texas come to enjoy the state’s attractions, festivals, shopping, amusement parks, and sporting events.

• Wilderness areas draw tourists who travel to Texas.

As these impressions demonstrate, Texas is many things to many people.  It is in Texas' magnificent diversity of landscape, climates, cities, history, activities, and people that many of the state's tourism successes have already been achieved, and even more opportunities for tourism development can be found.


Tourism: An Emerging Industry

Tourism, now recognized as one of the world's major economic and social activities, is forecasted to become the largest industry throughout the world in the next decade.

In the United States:

• Tourism is America’s largest services export industry, second largest employer, and third largest retail sales industry.

• Tourism produced over $4.4 trillion of economic activity in 1998 and a projected $10 trillion of economic activity in 2010.

   Travel sales on the Internet tripled to $911 million in 1997. 

What Drives This Expanding Industry?

• Americans took more than 1.26 billion trips for either business or pleasure.2

• In 1998, over 47.8 million foreign visitors travel to the United States.[1]

   These travelers spent $408.2 billion in 1997 on trips of 100 miles or more.[2] 

Billions more dollars are spent on short haul and leisure trips.  Most states, and many communities¾large and small, rural and urban¾have recognized the economic benefits of capturing a portion of these travel expenditures.  In Texas, the role of tourism is significant and increasing each year.

Foundations Of Tourism In Texas

Texas is among the top tourism states in the nation. Consider the following:

• Without the tax revenue generated by travel to Texas, each Texas household would face an average of $805 additional annual taxes to maintain existing government services.5

• Travel spending in Texas, for both international and domestic travelers, increased in 1997 by 6.3% totaling $29.3 billion.6

• Over 486,900 Texans have tourism-related jobs.7

• Tourism in Texas generates over $2,019 million in local and state taxes.8

• Texas ranks second as a pleasure destination for US residents.  California is the only state ranked higher than Texas.9

Texas has unique advantages for tourism because of the extraordinary and diverse characteristics of the state.  Features that draw tourists to Texas destinations include fun cities, trade and industry, natural resources like the Gulf Coast, friendly people, year-round recreation, and easy access.  Texas' great size and special geographical content provide a wide diversity of natural resources including hills, valleys, forests, lakes, seacoast, and wildlife.  Cosmopolitan cities are renowned for their exciting urban ambiance and space age technology.  Smaller communities reflect Texas' ethnic and cultural diversity and unusual history.  Many travelers have identified the friendliness of host Texans as a major tourism asset for the state.  The paradox of Texas, its tenacious hold to tradition alongside avant-garde innovation and creativity, is important to tourism.  Its dynamic setting in the Sunbelt gives Texas a further advantage for attracting visitors.

What do these extraordinary and diverse characteristics mean for tourism in Texas?  They suggest that many different tourism opportunities, or products, can be developed to appeal to a wide range of travel market interests.  As with any industry, the greater the diversity of products and markets, the greater its long-term stability.  Tourism has already been shown to be a resilient and expanding economic activity in Texas¾even in less than favorable economic times.10


Defining Tourism And Tourists

The term tourism once described only travel undertaken for vacation or leisure purposes.  Today, the travel industry defines tourism to include both pleasure and business travel.  Because of the tendency to equate tourism with only pleasure travel, the industry has further adopted travel industry as the preferred terminology because of its more inclusive connotation.  Over the years, there have been considerable discussions regarding the definitions of tourist and tourism industry.  In practice, most differences in these definitions relate to the distance that one must travel to be considered a tourist.

The main reason for using the minimum distance criteria (50 or 100 miles) is to exclude routine travel of local residents.  For the purpose of this publication tourist and tourism industry are broadly defined as:

• A tourist is anyone traveling 50 miles outside his or her community of residence to engage in activities which are not a part of the person's regular routine of activity, such as to work or school.11

• The tourism industry is considered as all businesses, organizations, governmental bodies, and their related facilities, lands and services that accommodate the needs of travelers.12

From a community perspective, one can easily see that tourism involves many different business¾food and beverage, transportation, attractions, retail, lodging¾as well as the services and facilities of public and non-profit agencies and organizations.  The degree to which a business or a public facility supports travelers will vary, as does the importance of tourism from community to community.


Foundations Of Community Tourism

Virtually every Texas town and city now receives visitors of some kind.  Therefore, tourism is already a part of their local economy.  Some communities are naturally endowed with superior qualities for attracting tourists.  However, by understanding the requirements of the travel industry most communities can be more effective in their tourism efforts.

What Can Tourism Do For Your Community?

Tourism successes do not just happen.  Built upon an understanding of the tourism system, successful programs are the results of careful planning, management, and marketing.

The three basic elements of tourism are:

1. community (its people, services, businesses and industry)

2. attractions and events (things to do and see for visitors)

3. tourist markets (the people who travel to your community)

The challenge of developing community tourism is to systematically assess each of these elements and create strategies that are most likely to achieve your community tourism goals.  Central to this assessment and the management of tourism is organization.

The decision to launch into a program to expand tourism development should be based on the ability of tourism to produce the desired outcomes or goals sought by the community.  Early on, specific goals should be stated which guide your community tourism efforts.  Defining community goals and developing tourism strategies are addressed in detail later in Sections III and IV.

Tourism may help some communities meet a variety of developmental needs.  For example, tourism can:

   create opportunities for employment, especially underutilized  resources

   increase revenues for local businesses and industry

   generate tax revenues

   increase stability by broadening the economic base

   reduce seasonal variations in revenues

   increase leisure opportunities for residents

   make the community more attractive

These benefits of tourism development are not without costs.  Section II discusses how to evaluate tourism goals and Section III discusses some of the costs of tourism development (See Table 2, Section III).

Balancing Benefits and Costs: Sustainable Tourism

Tourism development in the community should consider both the costs and benefits of tourism.  This will ensure that the destination’s resources are sustainable over the long-term.  The concepts of sustainable development and sustainable tourism are often used in development related issues. Sustainability in tourism relates to both hosts and guests, as well as social, cultural, environmental, political and economic aspects of tourism planning and development.  As defined by the World Tourism Organization, (Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry, p. 30):

Sustainable tourism development meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future.  It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems.

For the local residents, tourism development impacts on their community’s economic, social, and cultural aspects, while directly affecting their quality of life.  Adverse effects of tourism development on the integrity of the natural habitat surrounding a destination can affect the ecological integrity and the lifestyle which residents may wish to experience in that locality.  Hence, it is critical to understand the nature of the tourism product, and the way tourism functions, if the benefits of tourism are to be gained and shared equitably among the destination’s many varied stakeholders, including the visitors and the residents of the host community or region.  This is discussed next, in Section II.

It is important to remember that tourism is just one means of diversifying the community’s economic base, and therefore a careful analysis of the community’s overall economic and social situation is required as a first step in examining the potential for tourism as a tool for economic development.  Thus tourism has to fit into the overall planning and development goals and objectives of the community, so that it contributes to improving the well being of the local residents and does not degrade the environmental and cultural resources of the destination community.  A number of principles can be employed to ensure that the benefits of tourism are distributed fairly among the destination’s stakeholders, including the residents who often bear the costs of tourism development.  These principles include, but are not limited to the following:

a.)    Involve a broad spectrum of the destination’s stakeholders in the planning and development of tourism in the community.  A stakeholder here is one who is impacted by tourism in the community, or one who has the potential to affect the development and planning of tourism in the destination.  Cooperation and partnerships are important to enable the community to finance and market the destination’s attractions and also to manage the multiple impacts of tourism.

b.)    Ensure that the benefits of tourism development are distributed equitably both in the short-term and long-term.  Hence, the use and distribution of tourism related resources should be such that these are preserved not only for the benefit of present generations but also future generations of residents and visitors.

c.)    Provide a high quality visitor experience while implementing sound environmental and cultural / heritage management practices, in order to manage the impacts of visitation on the destination’s resources (which may be renewable and non-renewable ones).

d.)   Create opportunities for meaningful local employment and involvement in the tourism industry.  Residents should be able to participate in controlling and making decisions about tourism in their community.  They should also be involved in tourism practices involving the marketing and interpretation of local cultural and heritage attractions and events.

1.  Pre- and Post-Advertising Wave Data Analysis.  (1994).  Texas Department of Economic Development, Austin, TX.

2.  The Tourism Works for America Report.  (1998).  Tourism Works for America Council.

3.  Ibid.

4.   Ibid.

5.   Texas Travel Facts.  (January 1999).  Texas Department of Economic Development Tourism Division.

6.   Ibid.

7.   Ibid.


8. Texas Travel Facts.  (January 1999).  Texas Department of Economic Development Tourism Division.
9.   Ibid.

10.  Smity, J.T., and E. Echeverii-Carroll.  (1986).  Economic Impact of Travel in Texas Counties-1986.  The Bureau of Business Research, The University of Texas, Austin.

11.      The Economic Impact of Travel on Texas (1997).  Prepared by Texas Department of Economic Development Tourism Division.

12.      The 1986-87 Economic Review of Travel in America.  (1986-87).  U. S. Travel Data Center, Washington, D.C.



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