AUSTIN – Recognizing the opportunity to maximize Texas' strategic advantages, especially in the current economic climate, Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa sponsored a bill last spring to study further development of the cruise ship industry in Texas. The bill passed, creating an interim committee to look into expanding Texas' cruise ship business.
Last week, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst appointed Hinojosa as co-chair of the interim committee. The committee will research the potential economic impacts expanded cruise ship operating could yield for the Texas economy.
Sen. Hinojosa cited promising data that led to his push for the creation of this committee.
"Since 1990, the cruise ship industry has experienced growth of 7.2 percent in passenger rates. In 2010, an estimated 14 million people booked passage on a cruise ship. The redevelopment of the naval station in Ingleside and the port infrastructure already in place along the Southern Coastal Bend gives Texas a head-start. The committee's research will help private industry identify new cruise ship hosting opportunities from Calhoun to Cameron Counties. The access points are there. We need to fully investigate how we attract new business in the current tourism climate," Hinojosa said.
The interim committee's economic impact study will help determine how the legislature can aid increased investment in cruise industry development. Cruise ship operators will also benefit from the analysis produced by the committee.
"The prevailing theme in today's marketplace is job creation and investment. This study is an investment in time and research. The resources - coastal access, workforce - are in place. A thorough study provides private industry the basis for bringing their business to Texas," Hinojosa added.
The interim committee expects to begin its work early next year. The committee's report will be submitted to the 83rd Legislature.