MCALLEN, Texas – Robert Lopez has given his last report as vice president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

Lopez is taking up a position as executive director of the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau. After a nationwide search, Lopez will take over from former the executive director, Nanci Liles, who was in the post for 36 years.

Lopez is a McAllen native with a background in journalism, hospitality, management and sales. He earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Texas Pan American. He begins his new role on March 21.
“I could not be more pleased by the search committee’s recommendation of Robert,” said President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Doug Peters. “Robert brings to our organization over 16 years of experience in the hospitality industry, and we know that he will bring a fresh perspective to our organization while honoring our long-standing history.”

Lopez was named Director of Sales for Visit McAllen in 2012, where he managed a team of six – spearheading marketing and tourism efforts for the City.
“There are great things happening in Abilene right now, and I’m excited to join the team to be a part of the city’s growth,” Lopez said. “I was incredibly impressed with the people I met during this process and the vision they shared for the community was exciting. I look forward to meeting and learning from the community as we explore new opportunities to drive Abilene’s tourism sector.” 

Here is Lopez’s last report on leisure and tourism activity in McAllen. It was posted in the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s monthly magazine. 

Robert Lopez’s Report:

Hotels Rebound in 2021

A year ago, tourism industry professionals wondered if, when and how travel would make a comeback in 2021.

Locally, uncertainty about the return of Mexico leisure travel and bridge crossing were a major concern, but government, business, and extended stay groups provided the economic boost McAllen’s hotels needed.

I anticipated sports tourism would lead McAllen’s comeback in 2021, and it did. McAllen hosted 16 tournaments last year, generating 4,885 hotel room nights and an economic impact of $4,033,750. Youth baseball and softball led the way, and with the announcement of Mexico travel restrictions being lifted, international soccer tournaments followed suit. The first three weekends in December were booked with youth soccer tournaments, attracting thousands of visitors for competition and last-minuted Christmas shopping.

On November 8, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security began allowing non-essential visitors from Mexico to enter the U.S. via land ports of entry, and the impact on hotels and retail sales in McAllen was felt. Hotel occupancy in November increased 32.7 percent, compared to 2020 reporting occupancy at 77.3 percent, which even outpaced 2019 at 73 percent. Mexican visitors represent McAllen’s largest leisure tourism segment, accounting for approximately $3 billion in retail sales annually.

Year-to-date hotel occupancy for 2021 reported 74.4 percent, an increase of 30.5 percent compared to 2020 (57.0 percent) and even outperforming 2019 (68.4 percent). Hotel revenues increased 47.6 percent, generating $89,441,968 compared to $60,577,545 in 2020. Average daily rate is the highest it’s been in history, with McAllen hotels averaging $91.71 per room. 

I’m proud to say McAllen hotels had an outstanding 2021, and I want to express my appreciation for our local hotel community for supporting our efforts to Visit McAllen. I’m extremely grateful and look forward to collaborating with our local hotel partners and stakeholders to generate economic momentum for McAllen businesses. 

The Visit McAllen sales team is always looking for new opportunities to host conferences, conventions, meetings, and events in McAllen. If you are a member of a professional organization or industry association and would like to bring your conference to McAllen, we would love to hear from you. Email the sales team at [email protected] or call 956-682-2871. 

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