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Tourism Director Lysa Gonzales spends a lot time promoting and planning many of the city events you attend.
Lysa works out of the Historic Stagecoach House and Visitor's Center. One of her main goals is to attract visitors to Buda.
“One of the things that I do as part of the Tourism Department is run the visitor center operations at Stagecoach House. Whenever people come to town they stop by and visit us. They are looking for maps, directions, places to eat, where to shop and hotels," said Gonzalez. “Inside the visitor’s center we have a map of the United States. When people come in from different locations we will ask them where they are from and what they are doing in Buda. We love to hear their stories and we have them put a pin on the map so we have a showcase of all the people who have come to visit us from around the country.”
When it comes to how the city’s tourism department is funded, hotels play a large part.
“The tourism department is funded through hotel occupancy tax or HOT tax. Basically whenever you stay in a hotel you pay the hotel occupancy tax to the state and the city. The city can then turn around and use those funds to promote and market the city of Buda… to attract more visitors to come and stay in our hotels.
Legally, how HOT funds are used is limited.
“You can determine how you use HOT funds based on a two-part test.”
“First, will this expenditure put heads in beds? If the answer is yes then you can come on to the next step. Does it fit one of the nine allowable uses? Out of the nine allowable uses, the one the city uses the most is for marketing and advertising. We also use the funds for the operations of the visitor’s center and for the wayfinding signs that you see throughout Buda. ”
In the last legislative session the City of Buda was added to the short list of cities that are able to use HOT funds to make capital improvements to city owned sports facilities like Buda Sportsplex.
The Tourism Department also takes the lead role in planning and advertising city events.
“I like to say that we are the full service advertising firm for the City. From start to finish we are going to put all of those pieces together. That includes finding the specific publications and places to put advertisements based on the demographics we want to go after.”
Budafest was a big event. In 2017, the city took it over and tourism spent months preparing.
“We did a lot of the planning of the event. We had to go out and market for vendors and market for attendees. “We built a website for Budafest, we created advertisements for Budafest, and we had to place those advertisements.”
To facilitate events within the city, the Tourism Department provides Hotel Occupancy Tax Reimbursement Grants.
“Organizations that are putting on large festivals or events that are going to attract people from outside the city who are going to come and stay in Buda hotels can apply for grants. They can apply for grants and receive funds to help them pay for marketing. We provide grants for the Wiener Dog Races, Fajita Fiesta, we’ve done it for multiple events in the past.”
As we move into the future, upgrades at City Park will provide even more opportunities for tourism.
“One of the things that we are bringing in is going to be an amphitheater which can open up the type of festivals we hold at City Park. That is going to be a huge opportunity that my department is going to be working towards.”
You can watch the video version here: City of Buda Employee Spotlight Video - Tourism Lysa Gonzalez