Travel and tourism rank high on the list of industries which drive San Antonio’s thriving economy. With a mild climate and world-class attractions seemingly around every corner, it is not surprising that the city attracts over 31 million visitors each year – over 6 million for business and a whopping 25 million for leisure, according to a recent study sponsored by the San Antonio Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and other local associations.
Along with their cultural, historical, and entertainment significance, the many and varied attractions San Antonio has to offer also have a huge impact on the city’s economic health. SeaWorld San Antonio attracts over 2.6 million visitors to the city annually. It is the largest marine-life theme park in the world, and is spread over 250 acres in San Antonio’s Westover Hills district. The Alamo – site of the famous 1836 battle and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015 – is one of the most popular historical sites in the United States. Often referred to as “the shrine of Texas liberty” the Alamo is part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and attracts over four million visitors every year. San Antonio’s River Walk, however, is by far the city’s largest, most popular attraction, and has the most economic impact on the city. According to a recent study commissioned by the City of San Antonio’s Center City Development and Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, 11.5 million people visit the River Walk each year, with tourists to the city accounting for 9.3 million of these visitors. The River Walk is responsible for bringing an estimated $3 billion in revenue into the city, and the businesses and attractions located there employ over 21,000 residents.
Along with – and because of – the plethora of attractions the city has to offer, San Antonio attracts hundreds of conventions each year. The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, which is owned and operated by the City of San Antonio, is the largest convention center in the city and the 12th largest in the United States. With total space in excess of 1.6 million square feet, the convention center hosts over 300 events of varying sizes each year and serves over 750,000 attendees. Smaller convention venues, including the 65,000 seat Alamodome, are located throughout the city and attract hundreds of thousands of conventioneers each year, pumping billions of dollars into the city’s economy.
Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism
The travel, tourism, and hospitality industry provides over 122,000 jobs for San Antonio residents, and pumps $13.4 billion into the city’s economy annually, making it one of the largest single revenue producers in the city. San Antonio supports the industry with a number of councils and associations devoted to tourism, hospitality, and lodging, and economically by continually investing in upgrading venues (for example, the recent $325 million renovation and expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the largest single capital project San Antonio has ever undertaken).
With travel and tourism employing almost 1 out of every 10 residents, and accounting for almost 15% of the city’s Gross Domestic Product of just under $97 billion per year, the importance of travel and tourism to San Antonio’s economy cannot be overstated. Fortunately there has been consistent grown in the industry in recent years, and many experts believe that trend will continue.