“ The Facts ” Brazoria County – OUR VIEWPOINT: Website showcasing tourism has multiple benefit

The upper Texas Gulf Coast has a lot to offer for tourists and local residents alike. It is ineveryone’sbest interest to conserve it while attracting people to enjoy its recreational aspects.That was some of the thinking behind the launch ofExploreLoanStarCoastal.com, a project ofLone Star Coastal Alliance.The website is intended to establish the region of Brazoria, Galveston, Jefferson and Matagordacounties “as a national treasure that is a unified destination and a point of pride for Texans,recognized for its unique cultural, historical and natural assets and experiences.”People who live in Brazoria County already know how true this is. There are various beaches,creeks and rivers for people to go boating, swimming and fishing. The area doesn’t have thecommercialization of some other Texas beaches andoffers different experiences, like driving onthe beach. It will be nice that this website can boast the different features of beaches in Brazoria,Galveston, Jefferson and Matagorda counties to its visitors.While some residents enjoy Brazoria County beaches being generally quieter, tourism isnecessary for the coastal economy to thrive. This website and the alliance’s work could also helpboost conservation efforts.“With the Lone Star Coastal Alliance, we were initially working on having the region designatedas a national recreation area, and that takes a long, long time,” said Elizabeth Winston-Jones ofthe alliance. “What we realized was we were leaving opportunities on the table in not goingahead and getting the regional collaboration, or starting to create a brand identity for the region.So, it was in that ultimately a website would have been part of the national recreation area, butwe just put it in front of that to get things going.”Creating the Lone Star National Recreation Area takes an act of Congress, which is one of thereasons for the length of the process. National recreation areas are managed in different types ofways, but they’re all meant to enhance conservation and environmental protection whileallowing for heavier use by people.The more prominent the area becomes, which every website like ExploreLoneStarCoastal willhelp, the more likely it will be to get on Congress’ radar and get closer to becoming a nationalrecreation area.

The website’s promotion of ecotourism, historical tourism and local businesses drew incommercial organizations, like the Brazosport Convention and Visitors Council.“Our communities look forward to welcoming travelers who are excited to explore our region’sunique beauty and character,” Edith Fisher, tourismdirector for the council, said in a statement.There is a lot to offer, even to people who live just an hour away.“I am on a regular basis surprised at how many people who live in Houston and even in BrazoriaCounty—I have family down in Brazoria County, and they were surprised (at the things to do)and they’ve lived down there for three generations now,” Winston-Jones said. “We have all thesetreasures and very few are aware of them.”Some people in Houston don’t know Brazoria County exists at all. This website should spreadknowledge to tourists near and far, which in turn can boost the local economy and bring inconservation resources.This editorial was written by Maddy McCarty, assistant managing editor of The Facts