The City of Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau has always been a resource for people looking for things to do in Victoria, but the nature of that role has changed greatly since COVID-19 came to the Crossroads.
“Normally we talk about events, about things that bring people together,” said Joel Novosad, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Now it’s more about letting people know they can still have leisure activities while practicing physical distancing.”
Victoria hasn’t been getting many visitors lately, but the Convention and Visitors Bureau is still hard at work promoting activities that residents can enjoy safely. With the visitors center closed to the public, the department has been relying on the Explore Victoria Texas Facebook page in place of in-person consultation.
“It’s been a big pivot,” Novosad said. “Spring is normally a big event season for us, but we’re not able to promote any of those events or attract visitors right now. We’re already thinking about how to bring visitors back once the current orders are lifted, but right now we’re focused on our residents and how they can have fun while staying safe.”
Fortunately, he said, Victoria has many safe outdoor activities, such as walking trails, the Old Victoria Driving Tour and the Victoria Trail through Time. Information about these activities is available at explorevictoriatexas.com.
“The Trail through Time is a series of interpretive displays throughout downtown and Riverside Park,” Novosad said. “Residents can go to those places and make those displays part of a walk.”
The CVB also promotes Victoria’s local dining scene, a role that has become especially important now that dining rooms have closed and many restaurants are seeing a dip in sales.
“These restaurants are attractions, and they’re an important asset for the community and for tourism,” Novosad said. “We try to find ways to promote them and share their stories.”
CVB staff came up with a creative way to encourage residents to support local restaurants. A post on the Explore Victoria Texas page invites residents to comment with a picture of a takeout meal from a local restaurant. Residents who share pictures through April 30 will be entered in a drawing to win a swag bag filled with prizes such as T-shirts and koozies.
“Sharing pictures helps us to promote those restaurants,” Novosad said. “We hope that people will see the photos and think, ‘Hey, I’ve thought about going to eat there. That looks good.’”
Another way the CVB assists its travel partners is by educating them about new resources as they become available.
"We communicate with them to let them know about financial assistance programs and community organizations like the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center that could be a resource for them," he said. "We want to make sure they aren’t missing out on any of the support systems that are available."
The CVB continues to explore ways it can share ideas about safe activities. Staff are planning to launch an interview series featuring well-known Victorians who will discuss their favorite movies, TV shows and other home-based activities.
“Whether residents are staying home or going out and exploring Victoria, we want to continue to be a resource for them,” Novosad said.
For more ideas about things to do in Victoria, residents can visit Explore Victoria Texas on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 361-485-3117.