Forbes | Judy Koutsky
The travel industry has been through a whirlwind of change in recent years, with the COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacting tourist destinations around the world. As the world gradually recovers, we looked at San Antonio, an iconic Texan city, on how it has weathered the storm and is emerging stronger than ever.
Visitor Numbers Soar
San Antonio’s resilience shines through in its impressive visitor numbers. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the city saw a remarkable resurgence in spring 2021. From a low of 23 million visitors in 2020, the city welcomed an astounding 34.8 million visitors in 2022. Anderson notes that these trends suggest San Antonio may even exceed pre-pandemic visitation numbers by 2024. Equally impressive, the hospitality industry’s economic impact in 2022 reached a record $19 billion, making it the highest impact in San Antonio’s history.
“San Antonio has traditionally been a destination for families and cultural enthusiasts,” says Marc Anderson, President and CEO of Visit San Antonio. However, in recent years, the city has evolved, attracting a more diverse range of travelers. New restaurants, luxury hotels, entertainment, and cultural attractions have broadened San Antonio’s appeal, drawing global visitors seeking cultural experiences and culinary delights. The UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for the historic Spanish colonial missions and the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation have further diversified the city’s attractions.
Changing Travel Trends
Travel patterns have shifted in the wake of the pandemic. San Antonio caters to these changes by offering diverse experiences for both families and modern travelers. “While a significant percentage of travelers now book trips on very short notice (zero to three days in advance), strong booking trends for trips planned 21 days out continue to exist,” says Anderson.
Embracing the “Now” Travel Mentality
People’s desire to seize the moment has influenced travel behavior. San Antonio’s year-round appeal and accessibility via multiple daily direct flights to San Antonio International Airport have made it a spontaneous travel choice for many. “Whether it’s for culinary exploration, family fun, or seasonal festivals, San Antonio has something for every traveler,” says Anderson. “Moreover, Visit San Antonio has embraced the digital age by entering the Metaverse, providing virtual previews of the city to meet the needs of the digital traveler.”