vigilance is needed
to protect 'San Antonio
Authenticity', and to prevent a gradual slide
into 'generica'.”

~ Destination SA:
Strategic Planning for
Visitor Industry Growth
in San Antonio,
March 22, 2006



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Destination San Antonio
2006 Study

    An economic study on San Antonio tourism was conducted by CSL (Conventions, Sports and Leisure) International and presented to the city in March 2006. This 37 page report – DESTINATION SA: Strategic Planning for Visitor Industry Growth in San Antonio – details the impact of tourist dollars on the city’s economy. This vital study made Plaza approachnumerous observations which were then followed up by many insightful recommendations. CSL International stressed the importance of investment in the regional tourism industry and cautioned the city that a lack of “historic authenticity” and “local culture” in area attractions would cause a reduction in annual revenue. In short, the study strongly suggests San Antonio do everything in its power to strengthen its image and appeal by investing resources into its rich and intriguing history or run the risk of financial loss and increased unemployment.

    Since the 2006 CSL study, San Antonio has made some positive strides to strengthen its image and appeal to visitors traveling to the “Alamo City”. The grand expansion of the popular River Walk is but one example of the city’s genuine commitment to its future and to the tourism industry. It is our deepest hope the improvement projects will continue and the historic and hallowed ground of Alamo Plaza will figure prominently into city planning.

    Below are excerpts from the 2006 CSL study. The following comments either directly or indirectly support the concepts of the Alamo Plaza Restoration Project.

  1. Investment in the visitor industry can bolster local tax revenues thereby reducing the tax burden on residents, can improve the quality of life aspects for residents, and can increase the exposure of the destination to business leaders from around the country and globally. The importance of comprehensive policy, development and organizational planning with respect to this industry is difficult to overstate.
  2. CrowdsPast studies have estimated the economic impact of the visitor industry in San Antonio at nearly $7.2 billion, generating nearly $100 million in taxes and fees to the city of San Antonio and supporting 86,380 jobs within the economy.
  3. The visitor industry will continue to play a very important role in supporting the overall economic health of the region.
  4. Either continued investment and positioning of the visitor industry in San Antonio will take place or the positive impacts enjoyed by residents will begin to erode.
  5. Tax revenues generated by the visitor industry will not remain static. Without continued strategic investment, combined with policies and structures to guide these investments, these revenues can decrease.
  6. By assessing opportunities to extend the stay of current visitors, Tourists at dawnexpand into other visitor markets, increase the level of spending per visitor and increase convention activity, growth in economic impact of 30 percent is a realistic and achievable target. This would represent over $2.0 billion in added annual impact to the San Antonio economy and an added $29 million in annual City tax revenues.
  7. West Wall touristsCity policies may not fully encourage “Authentic” – in several ways, Current City policies don’t reflect an appreciation of bringing the authentic character of the destination to the visitor and resident.
  8. Every effort must be made to bring the history and culture of San Antonio to the visitor (in most cases they won’t work very hard to find it themselves).
  9. However, over time, if these issues are not addressed, a significant opportunity to expand the economic base of the community will be fat ladylost, and the current positive impact of the visitor industry in San Antonio (at over $7 billion annually) may begin to erode. As stated aptly by travel writers interviewed as part of this project, the biggest threat to the San Antonio product is gradual conversion to “generica”, or becoming just another Dallas or Houston.
  10. Any future visitor industry development initiatives must be infused with the authentic San Antonio features of art, culture and history.
  11. Alamo ChurchIn some sense, planners perceive the River Walk and Alamo as the “hook and bait” needed to lure the attendees, with the other attractions serving to extend the visitor stay and ensure return visits.
  12. To realize the return visit potential from first time visitors, it will be very important to offer an extensive package of amenities, sufficient to create motivation for return visits.
  13. Greater emphasis could be placed on attracting non-Texas visitors and on drawing them to the destination for return visits.
  14. Participation from a variety of public and private sector entities will be necessary to realize the potential.
  15. VaquerosMaintaining the historical and cultural integrity of the San Antonio area represents a significant opportunity for future visitor industry growth.
  16. That a community-wide authenticity campaign be initiated to protect the unique (and highly marketable) assets and character of the destination.
  17. The mission of a San Antonio authenticity program should be simply to encourage the public and private sector to make decisions with respect to policy and development that protect and highlight the history and culture of the destination.
  18. An authenticity campaign… will help deliver on a promise to Muralvisitors and residents that when they travel to San Antonio, their experience will be unique not generic – and authentic, not artificial.
  19. Research clearly indicates that visitors respond positively to the unique historical and cultural characteristics of the San Antonio freaksdestination. As such, a formal effort should be undertaken by the City with a primary goal of protecting and enhancing the “authenticity” of the San Antonio destination. A committee of visitor industry and community leaders should be commissioned to review a wide variety of San Antonio assets and policies with a fundamental question in mind: “have we represented to the fullest extent possible, the unique and authentic attributes of our community?”

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