NUEVO PROGRESO, Tamaulipas – Hidalgo County Tax Assessor-Collector Pablo (Paul) Villarreal, Jr., says Winter Texans are a blessing to the Rio Grande Valley.

Villarreal spoke after attending Day of the Tourist, an annual event that celebrates Winter Texans in Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas. 

“What a happy day in Nuevo Progreso, celebrating Mr. & Mrs. Turista, of course, and the anointing of a king and queen from the Winter Texans community. This celebration is an appreciation for them, for selecting the Rio Grande Valley as their home for four to six months. We consider them family,” Villarreal said.

“They enjoy our sunshine, our great foods, our friendly people, they are helping our economy here and Nuevo Progreso by spending money. Best of all they have programs to help our low income families, by donating, toys, clothes, etc., in the U.S. and Mexico. They are a blessing to our community. We are honored to be their home for the period of time they desire. Thank you.”

After a two year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Day of the Tourist returned on Monday, March 21, at the Nuevo Progreso International Bridge. 

The day-long celebrations are held by the cities of Nuevo Progreso and Rio Bravo, Mexico, to honor the Winter Texans that flock to the restaurants, bars, dentists, doctors, and street vendors located close to the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge. 

The mayors of Progreso and Nuevo Progreso meet symbolically in the middle of the bridge to celebrate friendship between the two communities.

This was the 46th year the celebrations have been held. The Day of the Tourist is held in March before Winter Texans return to their homes in the northern states.

This year’s Señor Turisto was Hidalgo County Commissioner David Fuentes.

“I think Tourism Day is a great expression of showing our gratitude to the Winter Texans who spend four to six months here every year,” Fuentes said.

“Unfortunately because of Covid, we have seen the effects economically over the last two years. We know how essential the Winter Texan visitors are to our economy on both sides of the border. Having an appreciation day like we did goes a long way into showing our gratitude for them coming down each year.”

The attractions in Nuevo Progreso is one of the reasons the Rio Grande Valley is a destination place for Winter Texans, Fuentes said. 

“It provides a sense of entertainment and recreation, which, along with activities like golf, birding, and the beach, it is another activity that they can look forward to each day.”

Marga Lopez, bridge director for the Progreso International Bridge was named Señora Turista.

Doctora Eva Lilia Garcia de Gonzalez has, for the past 12 years, been president of the cluster of doctor’s offices that line the streets of Nuevo Progreso. The group is known as Cluster de Turismo Médico Dental de Nuevo Progreso.

“Our cluster only has professionals that have certificates in the areas of dental, medical and clinical laboratories,” Garcia de Gonzalez said.

Asked how the celebrations went, she said: “We have had a very good Tourism Day, especially as we recover from the pandemic. We have had 46 years with this celebration. We all know our Winter Texan visitors are very important to the economy of the Valley, Texas and Nuevo Progreso,” Garcia de Gonzalez said.

María Elena Cavazos, is the former head of the economic development office for the state of Tamaulipas. She is now president and senior partner of MEC Executive Search.

“Nuevo Progreso celebrates Day of the Tourist by welcoming our friends from the U.S. We want to remember and celebrate our brotherhood and love for each other. We are more than neighbors, we are family,” Cavazos said.


Francisco Galván is director of the Tamaulipas-Texas Trade Office and bilateral representative for Tamaulipas Governor Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca.

“We were so happy and thrilled to be present representing our governor at the 46th anniversary Tourist Day event,” Galván said. “After two years where things were put on hold, for reasons that we all know and understand, finally we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this magnificent event.”

Galván said it was exciting to see Nuevo Progreso full of American and Canadian tourists.

“They were having a good time, enjoying the hospitality of the town as well everything it has to offer, including the gastronomical delights, the enormous variety of artisans and the medical professional services,” Galván said.

“This event represents how significant our relationship between the two countries is and that the two states, Texas and Tamaulipas, in every sense are economically, socially tied together as friends and family.”

Galván added: “I hope that this relationship continues to grow in the years to come and we continue to provide our Winter Texan visitors with everything they expect from us. Thank you everyone for making this event so unique and special.”

Sam Dailey is a radio and TV broadcaster. He can be heard on KRGV Somos El Vallé, Channel 5.3, or Spectrum Cable Channel 1241. 

“The Rio Grande Valley is important to the United States geographically and economically. Our community is unique in the sense that we are self sufficient due to tourism from Winter Texans and consumers from our neighbors in Mexico,” Dailey said.

“We were honored by the community of Nuevo Progreso, in gratitude of the economic impact we the Americans and Canadians contribute to their society. Political figures, philanthropists, media and business owners gathered in a communal celebration of the importance of our vital business relationship.”

Daily added: “The symbolic meeting of the mayors in the middle of the bridge, joining both countries, shows those structures are built to cross boundaries not only physical but to bring peoples to a common goal of prosperity and good relations amongst neighbors. In a world of chaos and dissension it is blessing to bridge the gap of good will and great friendship amongst two countries with a common goal. To live in prosperity and love for one another as neighbors.”

If I can add, I would say it is a crime that Mexican media outlets can send 15 or 20 reporters or cameramen to this event and yet the U.S. outlets largely ignore it each year. It would appear some people do not care about highlighting the importance of Winter Texans and Nuevo Progreso as magnet for them to come.”

Editor’s Note: The above news story was penned by Ron Whitlock, an award-winning radio and television broadcaster. He has been recognized for covering all the hurricanes to hit South Texas since Hurricane Beulah in 1967. He was also founder and 1st President of the Rio Grande Valley Press Club.

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