Visit San Antonio holds inaugural board meeting

Public-private non-profit replaces Convention & Visitors Bureau

SAN ANTONIOVisit San Antonio, a public-private nonprofit that replaced the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, held its inaugural board meeting Tuesday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

The new organization is similar to San Antonio Water System and CPS Energy, which are quasi-governmental agencies. Their boards including public officials and appointees named by the City Council.

“We want to be able to be more nimble and more entrepreneurial in seeking additional revenue to grow our budget,” said Casandra Matej, Visit San Antonio’s executive director.

Matej said San Antonio now mirrors what other major Texas cities are doing to fund their promotional efforts.

Matej said in the travel industry, “the loudest voice wins.” She said San Antonio’s biggest competitors have budgets of $30 million-$35 million.

“That’s where we need to be,” Matej said. “But it won’t happen overnight.”

Visit San Antonio’s $20 million budget remains primarily funded by a hotel-occupancy tax. However, Matej said the board will spend the coming year developing its “revenue enhancement” strategy.

She said corporate partners and others could become part of what Visit San Antonio hopes to accomplish.

“There’s going to be opportunities for funding co-ops, different programs that will further their business opportunities as well as the city of San Antonio,” Matej said.

Matej said that by having more media-buying power, they can reach further into existing and new markets, adding to the success of the local travel industry.

“Travel is directly tied to economic development, which is good for the entire city of San Antonio," Matej said.

Highlights of the San Antonio hospitality industry’s Economic Impact Report include:

  • $13.6B economic impact

  • 34.4 million visitors to SA metro area, including 20.9 million overnight visitors

  • $195M contributed to the city in taxes and fees

  • $375M to all local governments combined

  • 130,760 employed by the hospitality industry (one in every eight workers in San Antonio)

  • Economic impact increased nearly 50 percent since 2005

  • Industry size more than quadrupled since 1990

*Information courtesy of Visit San Antonio