It’s a favorite for tourists and our local economy is reaping the benefits. The Texas State Aquarium is posting record figures in impact to our regional economy, as it continues to grow in size and popularity.
Recently, the popular attraction was named as the #4 aquarium in North America. That was a jump of three spots from the #7 ranking in 2017.
“This is a jewel of Texas and I think that’s what we’re trying to get out there,” said Jesse Gilbert, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Texas State Aquarium.
In addition, a recent study shows that the aquarium has had a more than $560 million economic impact in the Corpus Christi area. That includes support of $168 million in salaries, and contributions of over $41 million to local taxing districts and $338 million in taxable sales.
Those figures are largely driven by visits from vacationers.
“They eat in the restaurants. They stay in our hotels. They visit the aquarium. They visit the Lex. They visit the beach and they continue to spend those tourism dollars that help the economy and helps South Texas and Corpus Christi overall,” Gilbert told KRIS 6 News.
Last year, the aquarium welcomed more than 530,000 visitors. More than 400,000 were from out of town. Gilbert says a big draw is the Caribbean Journey exhibit, which opened in 2017 and doubled the size of the aquarium.
“There’s flamingos. There’s birds flying around. There’s reptiles in this space. You really get the submersive experience like you’ve stepped into another geographic region,” Gilbert described.
The aquarium has also been able to increase its rescue and conservation programs. Gilbert says 2018 was the busiest year ever for rescues. A wildlife rescue center is scheduled to open in the next several years, along with other exhibits.
For more information on the Texas State Aquarium, visit its website.