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Celebrate tourism week by learning about Victoria

By BY LARUE ROTH
May 5, 2012 at 12:05 a.m.

LaRue Roth

For the first time and by mayoral proclamation, Victoria is joining in a statewide and national celebration of Travel & Tourism Week May 5-13.

In doing so, we gratefully acknowledge those who contribute to our social, cultural and economic well being: our service providers in hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, retailers; the volunteers and staff who plan our festivals, special events and sports tournaments; as well as people who manage and raise money for our zoo, museums and heritage preservation projects.

Also, we remember and deeply honor those early travelers - the explorers, the founders and the colonists of early Texas - whose love for freedom and whose sacrifices provided the foundation for our community.

The legacy of their tenacity and vision is our treasure trove of historic events, landmarks and homes, in Victoria and throughout this region. We're so rich in history, Fort Knox couldn't contain our wealth. Stories and artifacts abound from prehistoric people, Native Americans, French explorers, Spanish colonists and Anglo settlers and ranchers. Plus we're smack dab in the middle of the fight for Texas independence.

Victoria, like a snowflake or a fingerprint, is one of a kind. It's that distinctiveness and authenticity that travelers hunger to find. Most of the people who stop by our visitor center, especially Europeans, want us to direct them to our historic downtown and historic homes. They want to connect with our heritage, experience our unique sense of place.

But wait; there are more riches to tally. More recent visionary leaders had the foresight to set aside 560 acres along the Guadalupe River to create a public park - Riverside Park - and to create additional parks and green space throughout the city. They led the way for building the Youth Sports Complex and the Welder Center as well as VISD's new aquatic center and performing arts center. Our beautifully revitalized downtown makes the perfect setting for festivals and serves as an incubator for a growing entertainment district.

The travel and tourism industry helps drive our economy just like other business sectors. Visitors spend dollars all over town, contributing to our growing sales tax base. In addition, our hotels, restaurants and retailers support the unprecedented industrial growth here in the seven-county Golden Crescent Region. The travel industry helps solidify Victoria as a regional business hub.

Our goal here at the Victoria Convention & Visitors Bureau is to bring leisure travelers and groups to our city from far and wide. But we realize we can't do the job alone, so we are working closely with our local, regional and state travel industry partners. As part of the travel and tourism week celebration, we're hosting a familiarization tour for front line hotel and attraction employees on Sunday afternoon.

This mobile hospitality training session will help them to better direct visitors to our attractions, amenities, festivals, special events and sporting venues. Knowledgeable, enthusiastic customer service will create a positive visitor experience, which in turn generates repeat business and positive word-of-mouth advertising for Victoria.

But in truth, we need your help, too. Share the warm friendliness that Victoria is known for with every visitor you come in contact with. Choose to be an ambassador for Victoria in all of your travels. Know that Texas is admired throughout the world for its distinct cultures, music, food and landscape. Include Victoria in your sense of pride about where you live.

We invite you to join in this celebration by taking time to explore Victoria and enjoy some of the attractions and amenities we have to offer. Be a tourist in your hometown. You'll discover, or in some cases rediscover, a new appreciation for the special place Victoria is. Then make a point to invite some friends to visit and share your hometown pride with them. You won't believe how good it will make you feel. Happy Travel and Tourism Week!

LaRue Roth is the director of the Victoria Convention & Visitors Bureau. Her extensive background in the travel industry includes working for a state tourism agency, convention & visitors bureaus, a Main Street program and managing the Texas Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus. You can reach LaRue at lroth@victoriatx.org or 361-485-3116 .

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