Winter Texans increase after years of decline

Rio Grande Village RV Campground. NPSPhoto/CookieBallou

The Rio Grande Valley’s Winter Texan population ticked upward last season after nearly a decade of declining numbers. That’s the good news from the latest Winter Texan Survey conducted by the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRVG), according to The Monitor.

The bad news is that household spending appears to be significantly down from the previous season, though officials are not sure why.

According to the latest biennial report published in May, an estimated 106,000 Winter Texans came to the Valley during the 2017-18 winter season. That’s a 10.4% increase from the 2015-16 season, when roughly 96,000 retirees visited the Valley. It’s the first population increase seen in the report since 2009-10.

About 144,000 Winter Texans came to the Valley that year and had been steadily dropping for nine years.

“The cities were not marketing the Valley for 20 years because of budget cuts and everything else,” said Penny Simpson, the survey’s author. 

“Our Winter Texan parks have the best resources when it comes to marketing outside the Valley,” said Kristi Collier, whose website, Welcome Home Winter Texans, serves as an online concierge for winter visitors. Collier believes local stakeholders also had a hand in driving the turnaround.

“I would say 99 percent of our Winter Texans are here because they heard about us from somebody else,” Collier said. “Word of mouth is the number one driver of new traffic to the Rio Grande Valley. Still, we are actively working on an ambassador program to educate our residents how to get involved in other (marketing) opportunities up north and spread the message of the Rio Grande Valley and how great it is to winter here.”

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3 Thoughts to “Winter Texans increase after years of decline”

  1. PJ Nyvall

    Texas hill country is at 100 percent capacity this season 2018-2019, it get cooler here, but not as hot early in the spring or late fall as does south Texas. Plus there is more stuff to do here in central Texas.

  2. Kenneth R Fuller

    I love wintering in deep south Texas. We (Texas) needs to do the same as Florida has done for their snowbirds and residents. Leave the clocks on daylight savings time. I’m sort of envious of the extra hour of light they have in Florida. It makes wintering that much more appealing there. But don’t worry Texas, I’m not ready to leave you yet. I love the people and culture too much.

    1. Bob Godfrey

      To my knowledge Florida still changes with the rest of the country. Spring ahead and fall behind.

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