Port Aransas invests in repairs to tourist attractions

Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 19:20:38-04

Not all of the Hurricane Harvey reconstruction going on in Port Aransas involves houses and businesses. The city is also rebuilding its tourism industry.

"You have to keep in mind, that our economy is based on tourism," Mayor Charles Bujan said. 

Sand, seashells, how about golf on the beach? They are all reasons visitors are drawn to Port Aransas. After dealing with Harvey, business owners are banking on it. Literally.

"It is 99.9 percent of my business. I mean tourists are everything for us," said Bruce Clark, who owns Islander Beach Goods, Island Sports, and Beach Mart. 

Clark’s three businesses all had to be rebuilt after the hurricane. Now with the height of the tourist season around the corner, he is hoping to recuperate his financial loss.

He is not the only one. 

"Our economy is based on tourism. That piece of action has to get up and running fairly rapidly," Mayor Bujan said. 

That is why the city is fast-tracking repairs to tourist attractions.

The City Council recently voted to dedicate $6.2 million in bond dollars to repair the Marina. They expect to get reimbursed by FEMA. 

The city has also applied for 55 grants that will help rebuild the bulkheads, piers, the Nature Preserve, and birding centers.

"All of those things contribute to the economy. You have to be careful that you don’t kill your economy in the process of trying to save dollars," Mayor Bujan said. 

These investments come at a time when Port Aransas is facing at least $300 million dollars in property value loss, up to $70 million in storm damage damage, and staffing cuts. 

However, many are hoping a booming tourism industry will be the key to rebuilding a booming economy. 

"Tourists are the lifeblood of Port Aransas.Ccity tax revenue is based on tourism, hotel-motel, sales tax. Those things bring money to the city," Clark said. 

Since the city is planning to use grant money and get FEMA reimbursements, they hope taxpayers will pay very little for these repairs to tourist attractions.