Visit San Antonio hires representative agencies in Germany and China for the first time ever
SAN ANTONIO (October 2, 2023) – San Antonio is expected to become a sought-after destination for travelers from Germany and China after the city’s destination marketing organization, Visit San Antonio, secured two of the world’s leading global tourism marketing firms, Germany’s Harwardt PR & Marketing and China’s East/West Marketing, to represent the city starting this month. This comes as Visit San Antonio continues to position the city as a global brand, showcasing San Antonio’s inherent charm, beauty and charismatic cuisines.
“With the return of international travel since the pandemic, we are building a presence that has not existed before while growing our visitor numbers for years to come,” said Marc Anderson, President and CEO of Visit San Antonio. “We are confident that by showcasing our arts, culture, architecture, growth, evolution, and, most importantly, the warmth of our people, international travelers will be captivated by our city, the fastest-growing big city in the United States.”
Entering new markets is one of Visit San Antonio’s long-term strategies to grow and sustain the city’s visitation numbers. International travelers book vacations six months or more in advance and stay longer than regional travelers. These travel patterns strengthen hotel occupancy and local spending, specifically during unpredictable, short-term weather occurrences.
“We are tapping into a great new source of potential visitors to explore and experience the cultural vastness of our city,” said Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio. “Travel and tourism brings great economic impact to our entire city through international visitors and builds bridges for business and commerce. This is important as San Antonio fosters its global engagement.”
German heritage is deeply ingrained in the culture of San Antonio. It touches many of the city’s cultural artifacts, from music and architecture to arts and culture, food, and more. Last month, San Antonio International Airport officials announced its partnership with Germany-based Condor Airlines to offer the city’s first-ever trans-Atlantic air service. This will give European leisure and business travelers more convenient opportunities to experience San Antonio.
“We are excited to work with San Antonio to inspire German visitors to travel directly to the Alamo City from Frankfurt and beyond,” said Sarah Harwardt, CEO of Harwardt PR & Marketing. “The State of Texas is well-known and extremely popular with German visitors, and San Antonio is a historic and vibrant gem on the Texas bucket list. The new Condor connection also means that we have some big strategic gains ahead of us in creating awareness and bookings for a successful flight launch. We look forward to working closely with key tour operators, the travel trade and media to help San Antonio achieve and sustain their ambitious growth goals in the German market with the new direct flight.”
Germany and China are two of San Antonio’s top international markets, behind Mexico and the United Kingdom. In 2023, San Antonio is projected to welcome more than 8,000 visitors from Germany and 4,000 from China.
For 2026, Oxford Economics projected San Antonio to see a 155% increase in visitation from Germany to 12,400 visitors and a 445% increase in visitation from China to 17,800 visitors. Projected visitor spending in San Antonio from German visitors will increase by 148% from $13 million in 2023 to $19.3 million in 2026 and by 379% from $7.3 million in 2023 to $27.7 million in 2026 for Chinese visitors.
“The modern traveler from China seeks destinations that are unique and have experiences unlike other U.S. cities. San Antonio offers just that and more,” said Alina Xiang, President & CEO of East/West Marketing. “It is a city filled with stories of journeys that need to be discovered, and we are thrilled to bring those stories to China.”
According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2019, China was the third largest source of overseas travelers to the U.S. That year, three (3) million travelers from China visited the U.S. and spent $15 billion. Recently, China lifted travel Visa restrictions for its citizens, and destinations across the country are expected to see more inbound travel from the East Asian country. The U.S. Travel Association reported that if visitation from China reaches pre-pandemic levels in the U.S., it could result in an extra two (2) million visitors annually and generate over $11 billion in export spending.
In fiscal year 2023, Visit San Antonio expanded its presence with marketing representation in the United Kingdom – San Antonio’s largest overseas market. This has led to significant growth in brand recognition and engagement, as well as visitation from UK travelers. In 2022, UK travelers numbered approx. 15,300. By the end of this year, it is projected to increase to 18,100. Further projections show an increase to 25,600 by 2026, a 67% increase in just four years. These results highlight the tremendous impact of Visit San Antonio’s global strategy.
Harwardt and East/West began marketing San Antonio in their respective countries in October 2023. Due to the historic attainment of non-stop, direct flights from and to Germany, PR and marketing planning in Germany is more robust with social media, tourism development campaigns, direct-to-consumer promotions, in-market sales and media missions, media pitching and obtaining media coverage. Efforts in China will focus on establishing audiences by leveraging social media and seeding sales channels and media coverage.