Mexican visitors add billions to area economy

SABER study shows $374 million spent in Bexar last year


Mexican visitors spent a whopping $2.7 billion in South and Central Texas last year, according to a new study presented Friday to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

It's been no secret that Mexicans cross the border and travel to shopping meccas, especially during holidays, to stock up on clothing, electronics and beauty supplies.

"We see it all the time at La Cantera and North Star, but we've never been able to put a number to the actual impact," said Steve Nivin, chief economist of the Strategic Alliance for Business and Economic Research Institute, which conducted the study with the assistance of VISA.

Mexican nationals spent $2.7 billion in 2012  in a 20-county area which includes San Antonio, the  San Marcos outlet malls, as well as the border. That amount was a 12.9 percent increase over spending in 2011.

While most of the money went Hidalgo County along the border, Bexar County put a significant $374 million in its cash drawers.

The spending included retail, lodging, dining and some medical. It did not account for real estate purchases.

The new money entering the area economy is having an impact. According to the study, it supported more than 29,000 jobs in the 20-county region, including 4,000 in Bexar County.

"I think is lends a little bit of stability to our economy as well," said Nivin. "It's a factor in our economy that a lot of metropolitan economies don't have."

Mayor Julian Castro said the relationship between  San Antonio and Mexico  has been strengthening noting the increased flights and numbers of Mexican passengers arriving at the airport.

"I think we have to maintain a great relationship with Mexico and position San Antonio as a third gateway city with Miami and Los Angeles.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.

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