More than Cowboys

By | Category: Travel destinations

This was the message that Texas has been trying to get across to Britons for some time. And now it seems to be paying off because last year, for the first time, Britons were the largest international visitors to the state beating the Germans into second place. There I knew a few of you would that like that last phrase. By the time 2010 ends as many as 145,000 of us will have visited the lone star state.
So how has Texas bucked (sorry, a cowboy word just crept in there!) the trend and persuaded us to go there when overall visits to the US have been down and our favourite destination, Florida, has been hit more than many? Some of the success is put down to Jamie Oliver as his partnership with Texas Tourism last June, got quite a lot of news coverage. Some must go the fact that there are direct flights on American Airlines, British Airways and Continental Airlines straight to Dallas and Houston so it has been easier to get to than some states like Kentucky, Louisiana and South Carolina for example. And obviously some must go the marketing of the state that Texas Tourism has done which emphasised food, shopping and entertainment.
Those with long memories will remember the days of J R Ewing and the Dallas TV series which generated interest in the state. That was about 30 years ago and the shooting of JR (which is having its 30th anniversary this year and has led to interviews with Larry Hagman – the actor who played him – not just on entertainment shows but by heavyweight newsreaders such as Katy Couric.) The combination of the glamour of the oil industry and the TV series encouraged visits in the late 1970’s and 1980’s and what drew us then is still there. I remember being taken to a rodeo in Katy outside Houston and finding it just as portrayed in the films, – but with more excitement and fun! So the cowboy theme is still very strong in the state as is the appeal of the Alamo where Davy Crocket and Jim Bowie died protecting it from the Mexicans. That heritage is still very strong and hard to get away from when you get there,
But the new Texas, the Texas of the twenty first century, provides outdoor activities such as fishing both coarse and sea, camping and hunting. There is a chain of outdoor shops called Bass Pro Shops and the crowds in a store outside Dallas in Grapevine needs to be seen to be believed on a Sunday morning! Being next to Mexico a whole new gastronomy, TexMex, has grown up which restaurants have plugged into with enthusiasm.
So don’t forget the cowboys-that’s the heritage. But Texas Tourism has shown that the new Texas is as appealing as the old as you will see when their consumer marketing starts in the new year.

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