FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2007
AUSTIN, TX -- The South Texas Senator who represents one of the areas with the highest tourism rates, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., was recently named Vice Chair of the Legislative Tourism Caucus for 2007-08.
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst from Brenham is the new Chair of this 80-member body dedicated to maintaining and expanding the state's travel and tourism industry. Sen. Lucio has served two consecutive terms on the Board of Directors. He is Chair of the Senate International Relations and Trade Committee and serves on the Committees on Business and Commerce, Finance, State Affairs, and the Subcommittee on Emerging Technologies & Economic Development.
Rep. Tony Goolsby (Dallas) will serve as Secretary and Sen. Bob Deuell (Greenville) as Treasurer. Members of the newly elected Board of Directors include: Rep. Alma Allen (Houston), Sen. Kim Brimer (Fort Worth), Rep. Betty Brown (Terrell), Rep. Pete Gallego (Alpine), Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (Kerrville), Rep. Bryan Hughes (Mineola), Rep. Tracy King (Batesville), Sen. Kel Seliger (Amarillo), Rep. Vicki Truitt (Southlake), and Sen. Judith Zaffirini (Laredo).
"I consider this appointment extremely important, especially to my district where thousands of tourists annually visit South Padre Island and the surrounding area, including a constant flow of visitors from Mexico," said Sen. Lucio. "Tourism generates jobs and spurs both our local and state economies."
The Economic Development and Tourism Division in the Office of the Governor reported that Cameron County hosts an estimated two million domestic visitors annually, and in 2005 they contributed more than $625 million to the local economy through visitor spending. This spending supports nearly 8,000 tourism industry jobs with wages totaling around $135 million. Visitor spending also generates approximately $34 million in state tax receipts and $13 million in local tax receipts.
Most of these visitors vacation in South Padre Island and many also cross the border into Mexico for a day. Conversely, Mexican visitors' expenditures along the U.S.-Mexico border reportedly generate $9 billion in sales annually.
"It will be my goal to ensure that Texas continues to expand its travel and tourism opportunities so that people from throughout the country, the world and our own Texas residents can enjoy our marvels, attractions and hospitality, and so that we can benefit economically from this great industry," added Sen. Lucio.
Tourism is a $49 billion industry for the state, and visitor spending in the state directly supports more than 500,000 jobs.
The Texas Gulf Coast region alone draws millions of visitors, stretching 350 miles from South Padre Island and the Rio Grande Valley, all the way to Beaumont and the Louisiana border. In 2006, South Padre Island was named by the National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the top 10 nationwide Trips with a Splash for 2006. South Padre Island was selected for its exceptional water sports, and even received recognition on ABC's "Good Morning America" show.
"Tourism has long been recognized as a strong economic development generator of revenue and jobs for the Texas economy," noted Sen. Lucio. "And I am proud to be a part of the Tourism Caucus to help promote this industry for the benefit of Texas."