By Sarah Downey
With the summer travel season getting under way, Texas tourism leaders are working with the governor’s office to determine best practices for reopening premier theme destinations.
While Six Flags and other amusement venues remain closed, industry officials have shared with the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas the health and safety protocols they’re ready to follow when it’s time to welcome back visitors, Erika Boyd, vice president of Government Relations and Communications with the Texas Travel Alliance, told The Center Square.
“You will see we are implementing social distancing measures, and many of the theme parks have already implemented reservation systems to control the number of people coming in," Boyd said.
The procedures align with those already in effect at museums, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other large gathering places, Boyd said.
“And many of our attractions because they are outdoors also offer another opportunity for it to be a safe interaction,” Boyd added.
Much of the industry is watching to see how other theme parks reopen. While Disney hasn’t disclosed its plans yet, Reuters reported Thursday that Universal Studios Orlando will reopen to limited capacity on June 5.
“We’re optimistic, we really feel like we can put into place measures that other businesses have and we are ready to get back to work,” Boyd said.
Tourism is second only to oil and gas as the largest economic driver in the state, Boyd said. It employs one out of every 10 Texans. In 2019, tourism generated $3 billion in local tax revenues and $4.7 billion at the state level.
“That helps to offset the taxes we pay at the local and state level, but the value that travel and tourism bring from a cultural sense is providing opportunities for people to experience Texas, to do something new and get outside and reconnect with family," Boyd said. "It’s a quality of life opportunity that we provide beyond the economic benefits of the industry."