Azalea Trail

Tyler’s Azalea & Spring Flower Trail attracted over 53,000 people earlier this year, down from the number who visited the 2018 event, according to Visit Tyler. Still, the economic impact was up by over $25,000, officials said. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Although overall attendance decreased this year for Tyler’s Azalea & Spring Flower Trail, the economic impact was up, according to a report from Visit Tyler.

Total attendance tracked by Visit Tyler decreased from 67,580 in 2018 to 53,562 in 2019, according to the report.

The trails ran from March 22 to April 7 this year. There were 10 miles of trails through areas of the city, according to Visit Tyler.

The main decrease was a reduction in visits to attractions, from 47,956 in 2018 to 32,918 in 2019. Attractions include destinations not directly tied to the trail such as the Caldwell Zoo, Discovery Science Place, Tyler State Park and several museums, according to the report.

There also was a decline in attendance through bus tours, from 246 to 221, according to Visit Tyler.

Meanwhile, three other categories of attendance — visitor centers, group meetings and trail events — increased, from 646 to 914; from 681 to 1,050; and from 18,051 to 18,459, respectively.

Despite an overall decrease in attendance, tourists and group travelers, the report said the economic impact of the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail increased from $1,882,557 in 2018 to $1,909,380 in 2019.

“This year was a great year,” said Holli Fourniquet, vice president of marketing for Visit Tyler, which is part of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce.

“One thing to keep in mind when we do the numbers for the Azalea Trail, we just do the three weekends that we designate as the Azalea Trail, so these weekends don’t include the weekends before or after,” Fourniquet said.

She said the flowers bloomed on time this year, but many people came to visit the weekend before the trails were officially opened. However, she said Visit Tyler does not keep statistics on those other weekends.

Occupancy in hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts also was up, from 20,104 in 2018 to 22,046 in 2019, according to the study. She said that could have contributed to the economic impact.

“It’s logical that they’re going to go eat and get gas at the gas station — all of that,” Fourniquet said. “If someone stays longer their economic impact and footprint on the city is a little bigger than someone who just comes in for the day and stays.”

She said another success this year was a new digital marketing initiative by Visit Tyler that was more robust than previous years of social media advertising.

“We’ve actually seen a lot of people interested in not only the Azalea Trail but coming back to Tyler,” Fourniquet said.

Government Reporter

Erin came to Tyler from Vermont, where she worked for VTDigger.org and previously the Rutland Herald. She received her B.A. in Economics and Spanish from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she also attended journalism school.

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