By ALLEY COWGILL
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Port Isabel is actively to expand their tourism market to include active tourism. Port Isabel sponsored a stakeholder workshop last Thursday to discuss the Lower Rio Grande Valley Active Transportation and Tourism Plan, or “The Active Plan.”
During a presentation, active tourism was defined as a traveling philosophy that combines adventure, ecotourism and cultural aspects of a discovery tour. Active tourists are typically loyal to the community and respectful of the regions traditions. They want an authentic experience, and to interact with the locals. Active tourists generally enjoy healthy, “slow food” – meals that can last from 2-3 hours. They really want to enjoy the experience.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley is fortunately comprised of several destinations that make it ideal for active tourism including the Causeway, the Island, flat roadways, resacas, palm trees and much more. Port Isabel Interim City Manager Jared Hockema expressed great enthusiasm for the active tourism market, saying, “It’s already a part of who we are and what we have to offer — whether it’s surfing, walking, biking, sail boating, kayaking, swimming — so why not capitalize on it? The Causeway Run that we do every year usually draws around 10,000 people.”
“We are putting resources into bringing people to the area. We are working on two different hike and bike trials,” Hockema said.
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is currently discussing the idea of a bike lane on the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway. However, it is simply a discussion with nothing concrete as of yet. Hockema explained why TxDOT may be hesitant, “Bikers used to be allowed on the Causeway until local tattoo artist Boomarang Billy was killed on a bike on the Causeway.”
Accommodations are key. The active tourist wants to feel like he belongs. A simple bike rack outside stores would be helpful. Hockema stresses this point. “We want to make sure to support the active tourist in any way that we can,” he said.
Europe’s bike tourism alone brought in $57 million in profits. Active tourism in Lanesboro, Mich. brought in around $25 million.
“We want to be welcoming to all tourists!” Hockema said.
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