Released by the Convention and Visitors Bureau:

ABILENE, TX – Thanks to some smart action from local leaders, Abilene will be included as one of

only two professional excursions organized by the National Tour Association when the industry

group meets in Texas this week. Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau staff, volunteers, and

community partners will show off the city to a group of international tour professionals this

afternoon through Tuesday during an expedition organized through the NTA and the Texas Office of

the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism. The trip underscores the tourism’s value to the

state economy, and travel is one industry where Texas continues to see progress, said Brad Smyth,

Tourism Director for the governor’s office,. ”It is one of our largest industries, and it's growing,”

Smyth said. ”Leisure travel to Texas grew by approximately 4 percent last year. Travel spending

directly supported 664,000 jobs for Texans in 2016, representing the sixth consecutive year of

travel industry job growth.” NTA is holding its annual marketplace in San Antonio this week,

bringing tour operators from around the world to convene in Texas. More than 15 from the U.S.,

Canada, and even China will journey to see historic highlights in Abilene, Waco and San Angelo on

a whirlwind tour dubbed “Forts, Frontiers & Fixer-Uppers.” The familiarization trip was orchestrated

when ACVB Executive Director Nanci Liles reached out to the state tourism office and suggested

that the NTA meeting was a chance to let operators visit ”Real Texas” a little farther north. “We

thought this was a great opportunity to collababorate with regional partners,” Liles said. ”The state

tourism office added Waco. It’s a great fit. Our own Margaret Hoogstra, Texas Forts Trail Director, is

guiding the operators on their adventure through the sights and sounds of the Texas Frontier.” In

Abilene, the group will hit the downtown cultural district, peruse the new sculpture garden, take in

regional history at Frontier Texas!, as well as enjoy other treat stops, including learning how to

make chaps and cowboy hats, before the gang treks to Fort Chadbourne and on to San Angelo.