SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, RGV – South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty says Valley International Airport’s decision to bring in direct flights to Denver, Colorado, is helping bring more visitors to SPI.

A year ago, Frontier Airlines announced non-stop flights from VIA to Denver and Chicago. McNulty said the number of visitors to SPI was up during the summer months and some of them were first time tourists from the Pacific Northwest.

South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty

“We are seeing an influx of people coming in from the Pacific Northwest, the easy traffic flight, especially from Seattle, which connects through Denver and from Denver down to Harlingen Texas,” McNulty said.

“We would like to see more inbound tourism, there is a lot of outbound that is taking place, with the Valley being able to take advantage of new vacation opportunities, etc.”

According to statistics issued recently by the South Padre Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, it was a record-breaking summer on the island.

Ed Caum, the new Convention & Visitors Bureau director, said that not only were sales tax figures up over previous years, but hotel occupancy tax (HOT) remained strong all summer long.

“Here on the Island, we saw an 8.82 percent increase in sales tax revenues in July and a 4.13 percent (2019 vs. 2018) increase in HOT tax collections on the Island in June and July,” Caum said.

“Our website,, has seen double-digit increases in traffic – 19.9 percent increase year-over-year through August with equally strong gains on social channels.”

SPI Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Ed Caum

Caum said SPI is well positioned for continued gains in the fall and winter seasons.

“We have a strong team and a solid strategy going forward. With a great list of upcoming events and a beautiful birding and fishing season ahead, we look forward to welcoming more visitors to the beauty of our Island.”

Asked about the record numbers for the summer months, Mayor McNulty said: “We are very pleased with this summer. We hope we can continue to build off of it.”

Asked why he thought the number of visitors had increased, McNulty said: “The numbers are up in the state of Texas by nine percent so hopefully we get our share of it too. It is a lot to do with the economies that we have and the great times we are having in the United States at this point in time. People feel good to travel.”

He added: “We just hope our marketing is working to reach the right people.”

Asked how many of the visitors were from Mexico, McNulty said: “We do not have any way of tracking that number but, we had an exceptional Easter this year, Semana Santa. That is a predominately a Mexican national holiday weekend and we were still seeing them come in the second and third week of July and staying for the first week of August, which is their traditional vacation program.”

Asked about the role of local airports in attracting more visitors to SPI, McNulty said: “We have partnered with both Brownsville and Valley International. We know that 60 to 70 percent of the travelers that come through VIA are going to SPI. We are supportive of VIA and the Brownsville International Airport.”

About South Padre Island

Asked about the attractiveness of South Padre Island as a holiday destination, Caum said:

“With a tropical feel, miles of sandy beach and expansive views of both Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre Bay’s blue waters, South Padre Island is a world-class, year-round Texas Gulf Coast beach destination. You don’t have to take our word for it: from Women’s Day to Men’s Fitness (both named us in the top 10 beaches) to U.S. News & World Report and USA Today (both named us in their top most beautiful beaches), experts know that South Padre Island is a step above – way above – other beach destinations. The Island provides a warm, four-season welcome with an abundance of activities including water sports, dolphin watching, fishing, horseback riding, shopping, diving, and birding.”

For information on Island experiences, visit