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College Station introduces Heart of Aggieland Visitor's Pass to connect tourists to local businesses

Posted at 11:05 PM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 01:53:24-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — The City of College Station is launching a new tool aimed at attracting tourists.

During its monthly "Business Over Breakfast" meeting at the Lincoln Recreation Center, city representatives talked to local business owners about the upcoming Heart of Aggieland Visitor's Pass.

"It's a discount program where our local businesses get to decide what they would like to advertise, what they would like to promote," explained Natalie Ruiz, director of economic development for College Station. "These are retailers, restaurants, local entertainment venues, giving our visitors a pass so they can visit different businesses in town.”

Passes will offer discounts and promotions for participating businesses and will be distributed at large events.

"Pre-COVID-19, when you looked at the conventions and youth sporting events that we coordinate from a tourism perspective, there were about 100,000 visitors," Ruiz said.

During the pandemic, the City did see a significant decrease in tourism, with visitor numbers dropping to just over 56,000 for the fiscal year of 2020.

While Aggie sporting events bring in large crowds, several business owners expressed a need to have tourism flow outside of football season.

“I think [we should have] destination events, but not necessarily a grand football game that brings in 100,000 people," said Diane Carmichael, general manager with Double Dave's Pizzaworks in College Station. "... if we had consistent smaller events, like farmer's markets or artisan markets, things like that.”

Holly Johnston, who just opened a business, says the visitor pass could help spread the word about her restaurant, Costa Vida.

"People don’t know about us necessarily," she commented. "If the event isn’t close by our location, maybe they’re not venturing out from a certain radius. So to know that we’re out there and there are some other options, I think is really great.”

Any College Station business owners interested in the Heart of Aggieland Visitor's Pass program have until April 15 to sign up on the City's website.