Abilene tourism industry sees growth in preliminary figures
Preliminary figures from the state show that Abilene’s tourism dollars appear to be growing.
Abilene tax revenue collected from travelers during 2017 increased 12 percent to $12.9 million, up from $11.5 million in 2016, according to information from the governor’s office about the impact of travel tourism in Texas.
These gains were fueled by spending on automobile and air travel, as well as lodging and dining.
The governor’s office will release final Texas Travel Impact numbers in July.
In a statement, Nanci Liles, executive director of the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the preliminary data ”demonstrates the important relationship between group and leisure travelers to local profits.”
Travelers support small businesses, Abilene Regional Airport, local restaurants, cultural attractions and other infrastructure here, Liles said.
The data shows direct spending by travelers contributed $455 million to the Abilene economy, a 9.3 percent increase, according to the ACVB.
Tourism to Abilene supplied $27.9 million to the state of Texas’ tax coffers, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year.
The impact report shows slight growth in the number of people employed by tourism in Abilene – 4,000, an increase of 70 jobs. More than half of those jobs are in the hotel and restaurant industry.
The preliminary data for Texas Travel Impacts by Metro Area shows that Abilene grew across all categories.
Abilene’s percentages of travel impact were as follows:
- Local transportation and gas: 31.2 percent (up 22 percent)
- Food service: 18.7 percent (up 5.2 percent)
- Retail sales: 17.7 percent (up 2 percent)
- Accommodations: 14 percent (up 6.7 percent)
- Arts, entertainment and recreation: 11.50 percent (up 3 percent)
- Food stores 4.20 percent (up 2.4 percent)
- Visitor air transportation: 2.70 percent (up 12.2 percent)
Tourism in the Abilene Metropolitan Statistical Area employs 4,000, with 54.1 percent employed in the accommodations and food service industries. The State of Texas Travel Impacts grew 8.1 percent to $74.7 billion, while tax receipts grew 7.4 percent to $11.5 billion.
Data are calculated by the type of accommodation – where people spend the night, said Leon Aliski, project manager with Dean Runyan & Associates, which assists with market research, planning and economic analysis for travel, tourism, recreation and education projects.
”We have precise data that comes from the revenue and tax collections made on lodging tax,” he said, and travel estimates rely”tremendously” on collected hotel tax to help create an accurate gauge of industry growth.
A report on the Texas hotel market in 2017 by Source Strategies came out at the end of March, Aliski said.
Survey data shows that people who stay in hotels spend a certain amount on accommodations, a certain percentage on food and beverages, and a certain expenditure on gasoline, he said.
Another category of travel, for example, is private home stays, Aliski said.
”So we have a population in the county or the region or the state, and we have a share of annual survey data provided to figure out the proportions of people who stay,” Aliski said. ”Everybody to some degree gets a family member, a friend that visits probably at least once a year, and that’s all averaged out.”
Campgrounds and vacation homes also fit into the total travel picture, and day travel is ”a whole other discussion,” he said.
”We’re using all the available information that we have available now from a variety of different sources to make these estimates,” he said. ”… There isn’t an exact number for any one category.”
But despite that, the numbers, keeping in mind their preliminary nature, are sound, he said.
“Those sources are credible sources,” Aliski said.
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