Texas shines in the spotlight at Raptors game

Although the Toronto Raptors ultimately clinched the victory on Friday night in a down-to-the-wire 107 to 104 game against Houston Rockets, Texas also emerged as a winner.

During the game, Travel Texas, Visit Houston and Visit Galveston were in the spotlight on the jumbotron and TV screens across the nation as one one lucky attendee won a seven-night trip to Houston and Galveston, as well as tickets to see the Raptors play while in Houston, with airfare courtesy of Air Canada.

In town for the activation, Travel Texas and partners from Visit Houston and Visit Galveston hosted media and travel trade partners in a VIP suite at Scotiabank Arena to catch all the action and learn more about the destination. Notably, former Raptor Fred VanVleet, who now plays for the Rockets, was honoured with a tribute video garnering a standing ovation from the crowd.

The importance of Canada

“The Canadian market is extremely important,” Debra Bustos, international tourism specialist for Travel Texas, told PressToday. “It’s our number two for Texas. Of course, Mexico is our number one international market because of the proximity to Texas but Canada is very, very important for us.”

As Texas is home to multiple pro baseball, basketball and soccer franchises, Rosalyn Hunter, director of communications for VoX International, which represents Travel Texas in Canada, said that sports is a big draw for the state.

“We’re encouraging Canadians to come on down to Texas. The tickets are cheaper and we’ve got the non-stop flights so come for a long weekend. We have world class sports and entertainment venues,” she added. “We really want to promote that sports angle so we thought a great way of doing it was to partner with the MLSE so it was a great opportunity to do an integrated campaign with them.”

A full recovery

Although 2023 stats are not available yet, 475,200 Canadians travelled to Texas in 2022, representing 92 per cent of 2019 volumes, so all signs point to a full recovery for 2023.

“Just the diversity of what Texas has to offer, we’ve got Western culture, great sports, and we’re one of the best places to see the eclipse,” Bustos said, adding that its culinary scene is another draw. “We’re going to have the most totality of the eclipse and FIFA just announced their dates for the World Cup and we will have games in Dallas/Forth Worth and in Houston so that’s going to be a big push for us.”

With Galveston being the fourth busiest homeport in the country, Texas is also growing as a pre and post cruise destination.

Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Line currently operate from the port. MSC Cruises just announced Galveston as a home port for MSC Seascape starting in November of 2025.

Meanwhile, Hunter also encouraged Canadians to think of the destination for weekend getaways as well.

“It’s just so easy to get to Texas, with those direct flights you’re in Texas in just a few hours,” Bustos added. “Another thing I want to stress is that you’re going to get more bang for your buck in Texas. It’s a lot less expansive than your California, Florida, New York.”

Bustos noted that Texas also gets a lot of Canadian snowbirds.

“We actually refer to them as winter Texans because they’re coming down and spending their winter months with us because it’s very mild and they’re getting more bang for their buck because it’s less expensive to spend their time in Texas than some of the other southern states,” she added.

Laura Haces and Celia Morales from Visit Houston/Houston First Corp. and Mary Beth Bassett from Visit Galveston were also in the city for the mission. Stay tuned for more on what’s new in those destinations in upcoming issues of Travel Courier.