By ESTEVAN MEDRANO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
February 12, 2015
Winter Texans, a reliable group of visitors from the northern United States and Canada, who migrate to the Laguna Madre area to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather luxuries rarely found elsewhere during this generally chilly season, bring a needed boost to the Valley’s economy. These temporary residents, who number in the tens of thousands, spent $800 million in 2013 alone, but a bi-annual report by the University of Texas-Pan American’s Business and Tourism Research Center indicates those numbers fell sharply last season. The Valley saw a reduction of 33,000 seasonal visitors and $90 million. The survey cited fear of nearby Mexican cartel violence as one of the major causes of the dramatic drop-off, a topic that regularly put South Texas in the national spotlight. Also a factor was illness and death befalling the reliable visitors, as most tend to be older individuals, many from the Baby Boomer generation.
However, a new survey may imply things may be on an upswing once again.This survey, also conducted by UTPA in December of last year, examined Winter Texans’ improved confidence in the security forces in the region.
“Basically [the survey] revealed that Winter Texans feel safe here in the Valley,” said Penny Simpson, UTPA Associate Dean who played a major role in both surveys conducted. “More (often) than not they approve of the security forces and think they’re effective,” she said.
This study adds to the limited research available on the seasonal visitor phenomenon here, and the restoration of faith in local security should prompt additional visitors. Historically, bad weather in the Midwest and northwest states factors positively towards the likelihood that retired individuals may want to come down to the sandy Texas shores.
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