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Is Economy Keeping Tourists Home This Summer?

In these tough economic times, many families are having to cut back on their spending. So how is that affecting tourism in the Houston area? Bill Stamps headed to one local hot spot to find out.



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(Sounds of kids splashing in water).

It’s another summer day at the Houston Zoo. Some kids are playing in the water…others are walking around getting a close up view of animals they’ve only read about at school:

image of the Blevins looking at an exhibit“Tigers, lions.”
“They’re big, huh.”
“Are they scary or friendly?”
“They were asleep.”

That’s fifth grader Jordan Blevins. His mom Sherry says even in a down economy you can still have fun if you use your money wisely.

“We saved for our vacation and we do a cash envelope and so that’s a reason why we were able to do something like this. Plus, we’re staying with my sister and we don’t have to pay for a hotel.”

(Sounds of birds).

Most of the people I ran into at the zoo were from the Houston area. But even if tourist attractions like the Johnson Space Center or Aquarium aren’t getting as many people from out of state as before, they can still make money says Dave Ortale of the Houston Visitor’s Bureau.

“Houston is a great travel destination. It’s efficient, you can get out and see a lot in a little area.”

Otale says dollars are dollars whether they come from Los Angeles or Dallas. In fact, the zoo had its best year ever last year. This is David Brady the zoo’s vice president of marketing.

“You can’t just stay at home in your backyard all the time no matter how tough times are. You gotta get out and do things with your family. Most people want to give their children entertainment opportunity, but also educational opportunity, and the Houston Zoo provides both of those and we work hard to do that.”

Martinique Phillips of Austin agrees…you can’t just stay home. So she brought her family, including little Sabastian.

“How do you like the zoo? We can see the monkeys and we can see anything.”

His family is saving my money by staying with relatives instead of a hotel. It’s one of the many ways families are still having fun together even during a recession.

(Sounds of seal).

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston Public Radio News.