I just read the Opportunity Urbanist article on A Targeted Tourism Strategy for Houston. I agree with his idea and apparently so do a lot of people.
My 2 cents has to do with adding icing on the cake. Not just building something and hoping they will come but finding what it takes to create a full experience. For this I refer to the down-to-earth practical sense learned from my grandparents and mother. In making an inventory of what we have, why not take an inventory of where we already have assets and investments, and boost those ‘new’ areas up even higher.
So what do I mean? Well, instead of building an attraction, as many areas have to do for lack of one, we can look around to where we already have tremendous natural attractions: environment and creative people.
Houston Wilderness published the Houston Atlas of Biodiversity that lists 10 different ecosystems within a short drive of Houston downtown. It’s an easy read about these assets.
People around the world are aware of these natural assets and come to pay them a visit. How do we make them welcome? Do we have eco-friendly lodging that is convenient and protective? Do we offer green transportation options? Do we provide information on other activities they can enjoy while relaxing after a day counting our diversity of birds and trees?
How do we tell them about our tremendous amount of art museums, galleries, studios, ongoing shows, festivals and activities where they can, in another way, recreate their senses and enjoy a glass of local wine, beer or aguas frescas? We have a wide and varied amount of art production in town. From the contemporary to the classical and many genres in between. The art experience features the work of new and old up-and-coming artists yet to be discovered or those local jewels that have already been found at the national and international level but have yet to be ‘discovered’ by our visitors or those stars who have chosen to make Houston their home.
Painters, sculptors, musicians, chefs, designers, writers, producers, performers, all locally grown, trained, skilled and educated because we have the talent to do so.
Many of the artists pay tribute to our cosmopolitan flavor infusing our daily living with a lagniappe of culture and creativity brought to Houston from around the country and the world. And there are those who are inspired by our beautiful land, wildlife and people, along with the features of our daily living right here at home and offering mementos of an enjoyable visit.
So let us think about educating nature guides, art guides, hospitality and transportation entrepreneurs along with those providing the skills of a science, environmentally, and culturally rich destination because Houston, we have an experience to offer.