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El Paso tourism restarting, leaders hope border restrictions lifted by summer

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Travel and tourism is picking up as more people are getting vaccinated. Despite border restrictions still in place, Destination El Paso is hopeful that the next couple of months will help restart tourism in the Borderland as it celebrates National Travel and Tourism week.

Bryan Crowe, general manager of Destination El Paso, said the way to restarting the industry is the vaccine. The more people get vaccinated the better. "I think that once our community and the United States continue to increase vaccinations, I think it's likely that the federal administration will see that then it is safe to have more visitors from the south be able to cross the land ports," Crowe said.

Crowe said Destination El Paso is anxiously awaiting the announcement for border restrictions to be lifted. Non-essential travel restrictions have been in place for more than one year and will continue into May. "That has a significant impact to our community in our daily economic impact and shopping and retail and restaurants," Crowe said.

Crowe said he believes the impact border restrictions have made economically are starting to received more attention, especially on the national level. The Texas Travel Alliance is working to help bring attention, according to Crowe.

"I'm very hopeful that we'll see something in the next month or two and I feel like as our community and in all communities all across the border areas to increase vaccination to build to protect their communities. I think that you will see that the argument can be made that the the economic restriction is is too much and to not go ahead and reopen the border," Crowe said.

While El Paso relies on border travel, El Paso also have interstate travel, business, government travel which has helped keep the travel and tourism industry going.

According to Destination El Paso, hotel occupancy is doing well. "El Paso ranks number one for Texas cities in terms of overall occupancy so far for the year 2021. We were second overall for the year in 2020." Weekend occupancy is also high. Crowe said more El Pasoans are also having staycations and more people who live outside of a 600 mile radius are also driving towards.

It's no secret the travel and tourism industry has been hit hard across the country and the state of Texas. According to the the Texas Comptroller, leisure and hospitality was hit the hardest, so was the state's accommodation industry. As of November of 2020 the state's accommodation industry lost more than 26,000 jobs within the year. That's a decline of more than 19 percent.

Before the pandemic in 2019, the accommodation industry contributed an estimated $9.4 billion to Texas. Travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output in the U.S., according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Nationwide, travel spending is down nearly $500 billion, costing the U.S. economy $1.1 trillion.

This week Destination El Paso will be hosting several events to celebrate National Travel and Tourism week. On Friday, the Star on the Mountain will be lit in honor of El Paso hotel general managers.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Brianna Chavez


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