Analysis of Nacogdoches' tourism industry reveals a few surprises

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The findings from an 18-month, in-depth analysis of Nacogdoches tourism was presented Wednesday.

Stephen F. Austin State University researchers collected a wealth of data primarily by just talking to Nacogdoches visitors, and the research revealed a few surprises. Who would guess the typical Nacogdoches tourist is a woman labeled by tourism researchers as "mature affluent."

Dr. Chay Runnels, a researcher for the SFA Hospitality Administration Department, said the typical Nacogdoches tourist is "a 51 year old woman who has an income range between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. Doesn't have any children under age 18 at home."

These mature, affluent women spend their time and their money in Nacogdoches.

"Shopping was the number one activity," Runnels said.

Popular spots to visit include the downtown area and Millard's Crossing. Along the way, they found what tourists don't like about Nacogdoches.

"What was expressed most often that they least liked about their visit to Nacogdoches was some of the existing infrastructure," Dr. Carl Pfaffenberg, a researcher for the SFA Hospitality Administration Department, said. "Comments such as 'it's okay to be old, but you shouldn't be old.'"

In addition to the roads, visitors complained about the weather. Both downfalls are heard by tourism directors state wide.

Tourism promoters learned visitors rely on the Internet much more than print ads. Neither replace old-fashioned talk.

"And so with all the social media stuff that's out there with Facebook, and Pinterest and twitter the word of mouth is really big," Runnels said.

Lots of statistics and charts are in the study.  The task now is to put it to use.

"We will be able to begin breaking down all the information and work on a strategic plan that we can put into place," Melissa Sanford, the executive director of the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The plan will include what visitors like most about Nacogdoches.

"It's small town charm and the friendly people," Runnels said.

The study will be shared once again next week at the Texas Forest trail Convention in Nacogdoches.

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