News: Texas travel industry briefs
In an effort to increase the Alamo City’s brand awareness in key markets, the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau is slated to open a Dallas regional office in October. At the helm is SACVB public relations veteran Dee Dee Poteete who will serve as the new regional director of communications.
Poteete has led the public relations efforts that have generated more than $150 million in positive editorial exposure for San Antonio.
In her role at the satellite office, she will work to garner a stronger presence in the city’s top leisure markets – Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. According to studies, 15.3 percent of leisure travelers come from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and more than 17 percent from Houston. Additionally, year to date, 44 percent of visitor traffic to the convention and visitors bureau website has come from within Texas.
The office also will focus on Oklahoma City and Albuquerque markets.
“There is no one better than Dee Dee Poteete to lead this effort as her expertise in communications and deep knowledge of San Antonio will jump start valuable relationships with all regional media. We trust that Dee Dee will elevate exposure of San Antonio to media and consumers that will ultimately increase visitation from these key areas,” says Casandra Matej, SACVB Executive Director.
SACVB will hire a Director of Communications to lead the overall function for the bureau. The Regional Office will open in October. SACVB also operates satellite offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago focusing on convention sales.
The Dallas City Council voted 11-0 to rename the Dallas Convention Center after retired U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center has 1,018,942 square feet of exhibit space and 88 meeting rooms.
Hutchison, a Dallas resident and Republican who has represented Texas in the U.S. Senate for nearly 20 years, retired in January.
She was thanked for millions in federal funding for the Trinity River project, DART and the renovation of Love Field, along with the upcoming repeal of the Wright Amendment.
Mayor Mike Rawlings says, “Even more significant, this will be the first major convention center in the country to be named after a woman.”
The Official Regional Visitors Guide for Beaumont, Port Arthur, Nederland, Port Neches and Groves is hot off the presses and is showcasing the Jefferson County area’s finest events and attractions.
“The new issue is designed to be the ultimate resource for visitors looking for the authentic Southeast Texas experience,” says Stephanie Molina, Director of Marketing for the Beaumont.
The annual guide showcases the area’s cultural tourism, sporting events and recreational activities. It also features an extensive event calendar, hotel listings, easy-to-read maps and suggestions for must-see attractions, best dining and shopping.
“We’re offering travelers a chance to pack more fun into their road trips,” says Molina. “Southeast Texas offers unique options for those looking for a refreshing Texas getaway. With fitness events like the Spindletop Spin and Pleasure Island Bridge Half-Marathon, to museum-hopping with the family, or enjoying a night out for Zydeco and dinner at the Pine Tree Lodge, the possibilities are unlimited,” she continues.
The Official Visitors Guide Magazine is available online at http://beaumont.imirus.com/Mpowered/book/vbeaurvg13/i1/p0 or by contacting the Beaumont or Port Arthur Convention & Visitors Bureaus at (800) 392-4401 or (800) 235-7822.
The free Guide also is available at locations along Interstate 10 from Orange to Houston, at Texas Travel Information Centers located throughout the state, and at high-traffic businesses and hotels in the local region.
The competition is impressive, but five Texas treasures are among the nominees in VirtualTourist.com’s quest to crown the “8th Wonder of the World.” Public voting is open through Sept. 30 on the travel research website, a community that is part of TripAdvisor Media Group.
The Texas entries are:
1892 Bishop's Palace (Galveston Island): Designed by renowned architect, Nicholas Clayton, the 1892 Bishop's Palace is one of Galveston's most popular historic mansions offering tours daily.
Armand Bayou Nature Center (Houston): One of the largest urban wildlife and wilderness preserves in the U.S., Armand Bayou is home to three ecosystems on more than 2,500 acres of bayou and forest. It also is home to more than 360 species of animals and birds.
Fort Worth Cultural District (Fort Worth): One of the largest arts districts in the nation featuring 5 world-class museums, each known for outstanding architecture and collections including works like Michelangelo's first painting.
Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio): The Institute features exhibits, programs and special events that examine and promote heritage, ethnicity, history and social issues. Visitors learn the stories of immigrants who settled in Texas.
Lubbock Lake Landmark (Lubbock): Twelve thousand years of history make this site the only natural history preserve in North America that has, on scientific record, shown the longest continuous human habitation in one area.
Since an initiative launched in 1998, more than 50 inland and coastal trails have been designated as official Texas Paddling Trailsby the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. More continue to be added like the most recent on the Brazos River and Lake Belton.
The Texas Paddling Trails program aims to positively impact rural communities and provides new and improved boating access for more than one million canoers and kayakers in Texas. It also gives new avenues for birders.
Four new paddling trail segments on the Brazos River, comprising the Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail, have recently been added as official Texas Paddling Trails.
“The new paddling trail on the Brazos River covers 35.4 miles and represents the longest continuous stretch of river trails we’ve launched to date,” says Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “A real plus is that the various segments lie within an hour’s drive of Houston’s growing paddling community.”
The four separate trails take paddlers through Brazos River bottomland forests of the coastal prairie. They are:
Columbia Bottomland Waterway: The 8.3-mile northernmost segment takes about four hours to cover. It begins at Brazos River County Park near Holiday Lakes and culminates at Bells Landing at State Highway 35.
Old Settlement Passage: The longest trail segment at 10.4 miles, takes from 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours to paddle from Bells Landing to County Road 849 just outside Brazoria. It traverses the heart of Austin’s first colony and its original seat of government.
Sugar Mill Stretch: The trail’s shortest segment (at 6.9-miles) takes about three to four hours from the put-in at County Road 849 to the take-out at the boat ramp at FM 2611 just outside Lake Jackson.
Gulf Coast Prairie Run: Stretching from FM 2611 to the Freeport Municipal Park boat ramp, this segment flows for 9.8 miles and takes paddlers from hardwood bottomlands to Gulf Coast prairie. It takes about four to five hours to paddle.
Three paddling trails on Lake Belton also join the paddling network.
The 3.6-mile Tanyard Springs and 3.9-mile Mother Neff loop paddling trails offer quiet, secluded trips, while the 4.7-mile Camp Kachina Paddling Trail provides expansive lake views. Morgan’s Point Marina and nearby Roger’s Park are the two official put-in sites to access the new Morgan’s Point Resort paddling trails.
“The more than 12 miles of Lake Belton paddling trails are a great addition to our network of paddling trails,” says Plante, TPWD’s nature tourism manager.
To learn more about the state’s designated paddling trails, visit the Texas Paddling Trails pages at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/paddlingtrails.
Shanna A. Smith joined the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau on June 4 as a Senior Brand Manager, where she will focus on partner communications, local media relations, and communicating the importance of the travel and tourism industry to San Antonio.
Smith, a San Antonio native, has had extensive experience including her previous role as Director of Communications and Marketing for the City of Granbury, Texas, where she served as the leader for Visit Granbury and as the city’s Public Information Officer working with local, regional and national media.
Prior to Granbury, Smith was Director of Communication for the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau working with media, social media programs and executing overall communications programming.
“We are thrilled Shanna is joining our SACVB team,” says Matej. “Our partners are absolutely vital to San Antonio’s success, and Shanna’s role exhibits our commitment to take our communications to the next level and strengthen partnerships to leverage the power of the hospitality industry across our city. We are proud to bring someone of her experience and professional caliber to our team.”
Smith is a member of Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the Texas Travel Industry Association, where she leads the Education Sub-Committee, is a graduate of TTIA’s Tourism College and Leadership Program Graduate and is an Ex-Officio Board Member.
Smith was the recipient of the 2011 Texas Travel Industry Association Rising Star Award; named one of the "Top 20 Under 40 Business Leaders" by the Abilene Reporter-News and a Professional Gold ADDY Award recipient for Facebook Project 365 and Abilene InSite Blog.