Texas State Aquarium Reports All-Time Record Economic Impact and Attendance in 2017

January 30, 2018

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Despite the impact from Hurricane Harvey, the Texas State Aquarium announced a record year in 2017 for both guest attendance and economic impact. Overall, the Aquarium had a $63.3 million economic impact on the Corpus Christi area in 2017. The Aquarium also saw 598,233 guests through 2017 –a 15 percent increase over 2016. The attendance and economic impact are the Aquarium’s highest reported numbers since its grand opening in 1990.

The $63.3 million economic impact was determined through a study by economic consulting and research firm Impact DataSource. Through providing hundreds of jobs and welcoming more than half a million visitors, most from out-of-town, the Aquarium provided a significant boost to the regional economy. The Impact DataSource report found that nearly a third of the 2017 visitors were drawn to Corpus Christi specifically by the Aquarium.

In 2017, the Aquarium supported 883 area job and salaries of $21.9 million. The Aquarium added 50 full-time equivalent jobs for a total of 185 direct full-time equivalent jobs and supported 134 indirect and induced jobs in 2017. Tourist activity resulting from the Aquarium also supported 564 jobs at local businesses.

The Aquarium’s economic contributions also include $38.4 million in annual taxable retail sales from out-of-town visitors and more than $9.5 million in annual rooms rented at local hotel and motels. Aquarium employees, workers, and visitors also generated more than $4.6 million in annual revenue for the City of Corpus Christi, Nueces County, and other local taxing districts.

Texas State Aquarium President & CEO Tom Schmid said attendance and the resulting economic boost was driven largely by excitement over Caribbean Journey, the Aquarium’s new $60 million building which opened on May 13, 2017.

Caribbean Journey features 71,000 square feet of additional exhibit space and other attractions, including a jungle with reptiles, aquatic overlooks, and free-flying birds, the 400,000-gallon H-E-B Caribbean Sea shark exhibit, and the Whataburger 4-Dimension Theater, and guests flocked to the Aquarium from near and far to take in these new experiences. While Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in August 2017 led to a drop in tourism in the Coastal Bend, the Aquarium was able to quickly reopen after the storm and has since welcomed thousands of additional visitors.

“We had an incredible summer with the grand opening of Caribbean Journey,” said Schmid. “Attendance shot up in May, and continued to stay strong until August 25 when Harvey hit.  The hurricane and its aftermath decimated tourism throughout our region.  The only silver lining was that Harvey hit toward the end of the summer. Despite the storm, 2017 was still the busiest year for the Aquarium since grand opening.”

Aquarium attendance has steadily increased over the last 20 years, from about 400,000 annual guests in 1996 to almost 600,000 today.  Aquarium attendance first reached the 500,000 mark in 2009.  Over the last five years, aquarium attendance has averaged 505,000.


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