Website launches to boost economy, environment

By WES WOLFE wes.wolfe@thefacts.com

Dec 29, 2020

An effort linking economic development and coastal resilience along the upper Texas Gulf coast launched a website recently, which is devoted to enhancing what the Lone Star Coastal Alliance calls nature and heritage tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities.

ExploreLoneStarCoastal.com is meant as the online presence for establishing the region of Brazoria, Galveston, Jefferson and Matagorda counties “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.”

The website is listed as No. 1 on the alliance’s list of catalyst projects and priorities.

“With the Lone Star Coastal Alliance, we were initially working on having the region designated as a national recreation area, and that takes a long, long time,” said Elizabeth Winston-Jones of the alliance. “What we realized was we were leaving opportunities on the table in not going ahead 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, but we 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 the reasons for the length of the process. National recreation areas are managed in different types of ways, but they’re all meant to enhance conservation and environmental protection while allowing for heavier use by people. Notable areas in Texas include Amistad NRA in Del Rio and Lake Meredith NRA northeast of Amarillo.

The website’s promotion of ecotourism, historical tourism and local businesses drew in commercial organizations, like the Brazosport Convention and Visitors Council.

“Our communities look forward to welcoming travelers who are excited to explore our region’s unique beauty and character,” Edith Fisher, tourism director for the council, said in a statement.

The website includes nine different trip plans, along with suggestions for what to see, where to stay and where to eat and shop.

“I am on a regular basis surprised at how many people who live in Houston and even in Brazoria County — 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 these treasures and very few are aware of them.”

There were questions about whether to roll out a tourism website during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the stakeholders in the alliance thought there wasn’t time to waste.

“It was unanimously, ‘Yes, absolutely, we need this,’” Winston-Jones said. “‘Push ahead, get it done, and try to get it done before the Christmas holidays.’”

Wes Wolfe is a reporter for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0152.