Tourism has long been recognized as an important economic development tool, generating revenue and jobs for the Texas economy. Tourism in Texas is a $69 billion industry, and visitor spending in the state directly supported 653,000 jobs in 2015.

The State of Texas provides funding to state entities to support and facilitate the growth of the state’s tourism industry. These entities conduct a variety of tourism related activities that fall into four distinctly different, yet complementary, functions that are essential for achieving an effective statewide tourism effort: marketing, product development, program development and customer service. The overall goal of the state’s tourism effort is to generate travel to and within Texas.

These tourism related activities are performed by five primary state agencies. Since 2003, the Texas Commission on the Arts, Office of the Governor Economic Development and Tourism, Texas Historical Commission, Texas Department of Transportation, and Texas Parks and Wildlife have worked under a formalized Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve coordination of statewide tourism marketing efforts. As a result of the MOU, a joint strategic tourism plan is produced each year, providing the most efficient and effective expenditure of funds while establishing goals and objectives and the development of a joint measure of return on investment. The major vehicle used to market out-of-state tourism is the advertising campaign Texas. It’s Like A Whole Other Country. ®

TCA’s primary tourism activity is the continued development and support of arts and cultural institutions and programming throughout the state of Texas. TCA plays a significant role in tourism product development resulting in high-quality arts and cultural destinations that attract visitors within Texas, nationally and internationally.

TCA officially designates Cultural Districts in Texas. These districts can be found in all sized communities from small and rural to large and urban. The impact of cultural districts is measurable. The arts attract residents and visitors who support businesses as well as lodging and dining establishments. Having the arts present enhances property values, the profitability of surrounding businesses and the tax base of the region. Cultural districts boost urban revitalization and serve as an economic engine for communities by creating a tourist destination.

Several other state entities play a role in tourism development and promotion but are not part of the five-agency MOU. These include Texas A&M University; Texas Music Office; Texas Film Commission; Texas General Land Office; Texas Department of Agriculture; Texas Department of Public Safety; and the Texas State Preservation Board.