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June 7, 2014

Travel is big business for Greenville

GREENVILLE — The travel and tourism industry has a significant impact on the economy across the State of Texas, including Greenville.

Diann Bayes, Vice President Member Services with the Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA), was the guest speaker for Friday’s Quarterly Membership Luncheon of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

Bayes addressed how “Travel Means Business,” to an extent which some people may never have expected.

“Greenville received more than $60 million in direct travel spending in 2012,” Bayes said.

Bayes also noted she was aware of how the Greenville City Council recently voted to pull tourism funding from the CVB and move tourism-related activities in-house.

“I am concerned about that,” she said.

In her position with the TTIA, Bayes deals with a variety of government and business leaders, as part of the agency’s mission to continue the growth of Texas travel and tourism.

Bayes presented a video featuring several of the big names involved with promoting the state’s tourism industry, including Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. She said many people are surprised to learn just how significant a role Jones plays, beyond professional football, in bringing travel dollars to the state.

“It is because of AT&T Stadium,” Bayes noted. “He books the space. They have events there all the time.”

Bayes pointed out the TTIA works with magazines such as Texas Monthly and Texas Highways, which regularly feature articles on the state’s attractions. She said the agency also works alongside businesses such as Coca-Cola.

“What do you think they send out to drink at all those attractions and all those events across the state,” Bayes asked.

The TTIA also coordinates with hotels and motels and government agencies such as the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Municipal League, all of whom have a stake in improving tourism in the state.

“In other words, we are in the business of travel,” she said.

The business of travel is responsible for some 1 million jobs and a $67 billion economic impact in Texas each year.

“These are brand new dollars coming in,” Bayes said, adding that tourism revenue has a multiplying effect. “The return on investment is seven-to-one.”

Bayes said the impact is also felt on the trucking industry. Motorists may not appreciate being stuck behind an 18-wheeler on the state’s highways, until they learn how the trucks benefit their local hotels, motels and other businesses.

“They have a world of goods they are bringing in to service these folks,” Bayes said. The truckers themselves also rely on the businesses to provide a significant portion of their revenue. “Without travel and tourism, it would be difficult for them to survive.”

Bayes encouraged those attending Friday’s luncheon to put on “visitor’s goggles”, and take a look at Greenville in the way a traveler would when arriving in the city for the first time.

“If the visitor experience is good, they will return again and again,” Bayes said. “Would you want to come here, if you didn’t live here?”

Bayes was asked whether she had heard about the council’s decision regarding the CVB. Bayes said she was aware of the situation, and stressed the people who took over the job need to remember how important the travel industry is to Greenville.

“I don’t care who is doing it, as long as they are doing it in the right way and making sure that money that is meant for marketing your community is spent on marketing your community,” Bayes said.

However, she did express concern over the plan to divide the tourism responsibilities among three different city departments.

“Really, would you do that with any other department? You probably wouldn’t,” Bayes said.

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