Air travel was one of the hardest hit industries when the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns occurred in the spring of 2020. Things are looking up, but continue to be well below pre-pandemic levels. The recent weekend of cancellations and delays illustrates one aspect of the ongoing challenges.
One of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic has been airlines. The sharp decrease in demand for air travel due to shutdowns and safety concerns has severely crimped revenues and profits. Companies are struggling to maintain service and, in some cases, to survive intact.
Growing an economy and encouraging prosperity is difficult work, and the last thing Texas needs is to shoot itself in the foot over a bathroom bill. The state has a lot of things going for it - a large and growing workforce, abundant natural resources (particularly oil and natural gas), a central location, a competitive cost of living, and excellent incentive programs. We also have good things going on in a number of industries ranging from technology to biosciences. We're improving infrastructure, adding top-tier research facilities and medical schools, and emerging as a center for desirable industrial growth and corporate locations and expansions.
Travel and tourism is an important source of economic activity. Every year, millions of visitors to Texas spend billions of dollars in the state, and hundreds of thousands of individuals across Texas are employed in travel-related industries. I have studied travel and tourism in Texas on a number of occasions dating back more than 30 years. Recently, I estimated that when multiplier effects are considered, the total benefits of travel and tourism industries include more than $128.9 billion in gross product each year and 1.4 million permanent jobs in Texas. This economic activity generates substantial tax revenue, which I found to be $7.0 billion to the State and $3.3 billion to local government entities (including cities, counties, and school districts) each year.
Immigration is once again at the forefront of American politics. Following President Trump's infamous travel ban, the highly-publicized immigration raids, and the Day Without Immigrants protests in response, policymakers from both sides of the aisle are turning increasing attention to the need for immigration reform. It is important, however, before diving into the political rhetoric, to have an accurate understanding of the vital role that immigrants play in our economy. New American Economy, a major bipartisan group of business leaders, celebrated a "Day of Impact for Immigration Reform" on February 21; I thought this was a good time to explore the issue in some detail.
Travel and tourism plays a large role in the Texas economy. Unique traditions and expansive wide-open spaces have lent a genuine mystique to "all things Texas" over the years. Today, the Lone Star State offers countless opportunities for leisure and business travelers--whether intrastate, interstate, or from far-flung places around the globe. From sleepy picturesque towns and winding country roads to enormous high-tech theme parks and world-class museums, and from high school, college, and professional athletic contests to out-of-the way nature trails, fishing holes, and cultural enrichment activities, Texas really is "like a whole other country."
Every year, millions of travelers come to Texas for both business and leisure purposes. Texas benefits greatly from travel spending from residents of the state as well as travelers from other states or countries.