grows, prospers as tourism flourishes
Web Posted: 02/24/2007
12:00 PM CST
Tourism has changed San Antonio many times. It all started in 1968 with
HemisFair and the new hotels and improvements on the River Walk caused by
this great international event.
Today, the hotel inventory has reached more than 33,000 rooms, enough
to accommodate large conventions and even multiple meetings with the
expansion of the Convention Center.
The next impact was felt in 1988 with the opening of Rivercenter mall
and SeaWorld San Antonio. These two major projects brought new jobs and
more development to downtown and northwest San Antonio.
Both areas today are expanding and attracting new jobs and economic
development. Just take a drive around SeaWorld and see what has become of
the Westover Hills development with numerous corporate headquarters and
more corporate expansions. SeaWorld was the spark that brought the Hyatt
Hill Country Resort and the Radisson Resort. Rivercenter mall sparked
interest in more retail and restaurants coming to downtown since 1988.
The skyline will change with the additions of Staybridge Hotel at
Sunset Station and the new Grand Hyatt Convention Center Hotel. These two
developments will have a significant impact on the gateway to East San
Antonio that will spark more development of limited service hotels in that
area and more restaurants and housing for downtown.
The Grand Hyatt will allow San Antonio to grow its convention and
meeting business by allowing multiple meetings at the same time. The
Convention & Visitors Bureau will be able to book meetings at the
Convention Center, while large meetings are held at both the Grand Hyatt
and Marriott Rivercenter, which have large ballrooms.
The projected opening for Staybridge is June, and the Grand Hyatt
Convention Center is expected to open in January 2008.
2008 will be another significant year. San Antonio will receive a lot
of attention from national publications as a meeting and convention
destination as these new hotels are opened. Hopefully, the PGA Tour
development and J.W. Marriott Resort will be under way as San Antonio
becomes a new golf national and international destination.
San Antonio continues to define itself as a great place to meet and
bring corporate business while we are becoming better known as a golf
destination and cuisine destination.
Watch for other development, with new condominiums and apartments in
the downtown area near Sunset Station and across from Market Square.
Major improvements around the city include a renovation and expansion
of the San Antonio International Airport, expected to be completed by
2011, with new gates and a new terminal, plus additional parking spaces
with a new garage. This development will generate more interest from major
airlines to offer and continue nonstop service, which is vital to the
meeting and convention business.
San Antonio will continue to prosper with the investment tourism has
made in this city. The city will continue to flourish as the economy is
diversified and other industry continues to grow, with the manufacturing
and health/medical sectors expanding as well.
Tourism today supports a major part of the city budget, with revenues
supporting the operations of several city departments, including
convention facilities and the Alamodome, Parks and Recreation, Convention
& Visitors Bureau, International Affairs and Cultural Affairs.
A tourism master plan called Destination S.A. is the key to keep this
industry and the city moving forward. The new city management recognizes
the importance of tourism and the improvements this industry brings to the
quality of life and its citizens.
Marco A. Barros is executive director of the San Antonio Tourism
Council, which serves more than 350 businesses and provides advocacy for
the tourism industry.