Whether they were from Russia, Egypt, or Burkina Faso to name only a few, the seventeen visitors SACIV hosted from as many countries found their experiences learning about the San Antonio tourism industry fascinating.
Their program began with quite a few hiccups in getting into San Antonio, but once they were here, all of the IVLP participants were eager to learn from the resources available to them. A tour of the San Antonio Missions, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a fantastic start in learning about cultural and historical preservation efforts. SA300 shared how they are working to publicize San Antonio's long and rich history.
St. Philip's College was able to explain how they formed curricula for students preparing to enter the tourism or hospitality industries. They were also treated to a unique experience at Morgan's Wonderland which allowed them to learn more about designing and maintaining accessible and inclusive attractions while still running a successful business.
Later, the seventeen of them met up with Marco Barros of the San Antonio Tourism Council to discuss all that they do to advocate for San Antonio's visitor and hospitality industries while also getting an overview perspective on the state of San Antonio's visitor-based economy. They were especially impressed by his experiences cooperating with local police on tourism-related issues and guest security as well as subtle innovations to improve visitor experience like cell phone waiting lots near the airport.
The next day, the group was able to share experiences with JoAnn Andera at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Everyone was able to discuss successes and strategies in highlighting cultural diversity, folklife, and parochial traditions. Although they may have come from many cultures, they all shared in the effort to showcase their own cultural traditions.
At the Pearl Brewery, the visitors saw how a once-abandoned industrial area had been revivified into a spectacularly successful commercial area. Not only that, but they saw how the introduction of enticing retail combined with well thought-out development had created an entirely new space where the city could come together.
All of these resources helped enhance our visitors' understanding of best practices in tourism and hospitality and provided new strategies that they are now determined to share with their counterparts back home. Whether home is Egypt, Chile, or Azerbaijan, these IVLP guests certainly learned a lot about the visitor industry and its economic impact in San Antonio.