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Houston First Initiative to increase Tourism Visitors by 4.5 Million by 2020

Speaker Roger Harris, addressing the gatherig . Panelists Jorge Franz and Peter McStravick are seen seated on the right. (Photo credit:©Roswitha Vogler )

Speaker Roger Harris, addressing the gatherig . Panelists Jorge Franz and Peter McStravick are seen seated on the right. (Photo credit:©Roswitha Vogler )

by Jacob David
HOUSTON – The Asian Chamber of Commerce hosted yet another inspiring and engaging luncheon, “Houston First / Visit Houston” speaker series, at The HESS Club – Texas Ballroom, where Roger Harris, Development Specialist Manager, opened with comments on engaging every Houstonian to be an Ambassador for Tourism, and encourage visitors to come to Houston. Jorge Franz, Senior Vice President of Tourism, Visit Houston, spoke next, giving interesting insights into how the city of Houston is planning to increase visitors by another 4.6 million visitors by 2020. Peter McStravick, Chief Development Officer, Houston First, spoke about engaging visitors with local attractions and turning them into business opportunities to increase tourism revenue, which in turn will mean better infrastructure development and lower taxes for the residents in the state of Texas. The three speakers requested that every member present become a fanatic ambassador for promoting tourism in Houston.
Three engaging videos showing Houston as a tourism destination were played. One video showed children from different cultures living in Houston, welcoming visitors to Houston. The star of Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper in the CBS sitcom, vouched for Houston as a tourism spot, calling it “My Houston.”

BUS_ACC_Houston First_ Group_©Roswitha Vogler

L-R: Austin Zhao, Roger Harris, Jorge Franz, Alice Chen, and Peter McStravick at the Asian Chamber luncheon where the Houston First initiative details were explained. (Photo credit:©Roswitha Vogler )

Roger Harris, Cheryl Ross-Josey, Arcy Munoz, MaiLan Trinh. (Photo credit:©Roswitha Vogler )

Roger Harris, Cheryl Ross-Josey, Arcy Munoz, MaiLan Trinh. (Photo credit:©Roswitha Vogler )

With over 10,000 restaurants featuring food from diverse cultures, and mention of renown Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown, his recent visit to the Himalaya Restaurant as a cultural spot for great Indian and Pakistani cuisine, the city of Houston has gained great importance in the last five years alone.
Houston saw 20.5 million visitors in 2016 according to the research group, TNS Global, and the State of Texas. The tourism industry in Houston has supported more than 140,000 jobs and contributed $16.5 billion to the local economy. The state of New York projects to have 67 million tourists by 2021, according to Fred Dixon, the CEO of New York’s tourism-marketing agency, NYC & Company. Chicago ranks second having had 54.1 million visitors in 2016, while San Antonio, Texas had 34 million visitors. Plans and discussions are underway to develop a multi-layered strategy to attract visitors, which include to develop a tourist spot of interest in Houston.
The Houston First organization owns the Hilton of the Americas hotel and manages the George R. Brown Convention Center including 11 other city-owned properties. It is the driving force in developing the Avenida Houston entertainment district. To learn more on how you can participate, visit: HoustonFirst.com and VisitHouston.com.


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