Valley sees decline in Winter Texans
POSTED: Monday, August 18, 2014 - 4:10pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 8:24am
HIDALGO COUNTY, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — We're seeing fewer Winter Texans than we have in the past.
That's according to a study by the University of Texas-Pan American. 1,400 people were surveyed. It found that the number of of Winter Texans in the Valley is down to a total of 100,000 this season. In 2010, the Valley had a 30-year high of an estimated 144,000.
"The drop in the number of Winter Texans hasn't been a surprise to us," said Nancy Millar of McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We've been expecting it."
Officials blame the decrease on the lack of marketing. The majority of Winter Texans are from the Midwest. Lately, trade groups that target Winter Texans haven't been recruiting new customers. Marketing funds have dried up.
"We've had them for so long, and they've stayed strong for so long, that I think we all as a group maybe got used to them being around a little too much," Millar said.
Local chambers of commerce have gathered businesses to group money for trade shows up north. It's an important economic driver in the Valley. The study found a direct economic impact of $710 million this year. However, in 2010, it was more than $800 million.
The Valley has for years fought the characterization that it's a dangerous place where drug cartels run rampant. It's a label that could be a hurdle in recruitment efforts.
"I really don't think the violence prevents Winter Texans from coming here," UTPA professor of marketing Penny Simpson said. "It's those people who don't know about the Valley, who've never been here, that might discourage them."
Although we're seeing fewer Winter Texans, the ones who come are spending more than ever. Each household spent an estimated $13,000 this past winter.