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OUR VERY OWN WORLD-CLASS CITY

By Jeronimo Valdez

As a life-long Dallasite and avid traveler, I can tell you, first hand, that we are privileged to live in a truly “world-class city.” As an attorney and businessman, I’ve been fortunate to have visited many of the most famous cities in the world—including Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Hong-Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing, among others. Before seeing the world, I actually took Dallas for granted.

What I have come to conclude, however, is that we are blessed to live in, what I believe, is one of the best cities in the world. Don’t believe me? Watch me change your mind. Dallas, unlike many other famous cities in the world, is one of “business hubs” and “economic engines” that drives its Country’s economy. Years ago, Fortune Magazine named Dallas/Fort Worth the No. 1 business center in the land. That status hasn’t changed.

In fact, unlike other leading cities (such as Los Angeles, New York, Madrid, Rome, and Athens) Dallas has weathered the global economic recession better than most, if not all. Our city has maintained its status as a vibrant place with great employment opportunities and a low cost of living; 6.1 percent below the national average, and the sixth-lowest among 27 metropolitan areas. What does that mean for Dallasites? It means that big things happen in Dallas! Local travel and “staycations” are as good, if not better, in Dallas than most other parts of the country.

Our city has a rich history, a thriving arts and entertainment scene, and world-class hotels, including the Ritz, the Mansion, and our newly-built Omni Hotel. Want a place to shop? Let’s not forget Dallas has the highest number of shopping centers and restaurants, per capita, in the United States. North Park Mall, alone, draws in more revenue per unit area than any other retail complex in the U.S.

That is just domestic tourism. It’s no surprise that Dallas has also gained international attention as a dominant force in the convention, meetings and tourism industry. It is a major destination for Mexican tourism. Whether it is to visit family or to spend time shopping and enjoying places like the Bishops Arts District, the Galleria or the Arts District, Mexican tourists spend a considerable amount of money in our city every year. In 2008, for example, 13.7 million Mexicans visited the United States and spent several billions on U.S. travel—a significant amount of it in our area.

Given these statistics and so much anecdotal evidence from our own families’ travels, I believe it is crucial that the leadership of any convention and visitors bureau understands and embraces the growth of the Latino community in terms of how we engage, not only in tourism, but also in the arts and the culture of the cities in which we live and to which we travel. The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau has been successful in including this perspective in its leadership ranks and in recognizing that Latinos are an integral part of the mosaic of our city and our country.

As a member, I am privileged to take part of the discussions of the many amenities that make the city attractive to Hispanic families. I am proud to be a part of an organization that has a long-term vision as it lays the groundwork to take advantage of future trends in tourism, such as the growth of the Hispanic travel market. As chairman of the board of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I am uniquely aware of what that means in terms of economic impact to our city.

With new hotels and new amenities, I have no doubt Dallas will continue to be a prime domestic and international destination for Hispanic tourism and conventions for years to come.

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