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Austin's not a top U.S. tourism destination and that's good news

Austin photo: News_Mike_Keep Austin Weird_TShirt
Austin's No. 23 ranking for U.S. tourism destinations ain't all bad. 

A new report says that out of 50 U.S. cities, Austin is only the No. 23 tourism destination. For a town that prides itself on consistently stealing the top spot on "best of" lists — best cities for dating, job seekers and millennials come to mind — the meager ranking seems like a blow. But is it really?  

If we dig further into the study, we find that New York-based tourism marketing firm Resonance Consultancy Ltd. considered each destination (those with medium or large airports) from a business and leisure perspective. 

 ABIA the king of direct flights? No. And major league sports teams? Sorry y'all, UT doesn't count. 

On the business side, number of direct flights, Fortune 500 headquarters, hotel rooms, and size of convention center and exhibit space were measured. And for leisure, Resonance analyzed Trip Advisor and Yelp entries (covering everything from outdoor activities, parks and amusements to museums, shopping and nightlife), only considering those rated very good or excellent.

To round out the analysis, Resonance took into account the number of major league sports teams and crime rate statistics. 

ABIA the king of direct flights? No. The Capital City a hub for Fortune 500 companies? Not really. And major league sports teams? Sorry y'all, UT doesn't count.

Instead of huffing and puffing about a mediocre showing on yet another hot-or-not report, we can celebrate what this rating really means. Local is still king — and Austin is, for now, still a little weird. And the study picks up on that.

"It’s not for nothing that the city’s unofficial motto is 'Keep Austin Weird,'" the study says. "Austin’s residents are passionate about protecting small business, which means that the 20 million tourists who visit each year benefit from localism in all aspects, from culture and history to food and especially music." 

While the study gives a nod to homegrown attractions that have shaped our culture (Austin City Limits, SXSW, Austin City Limits Music Festival), it also recognizes a changing of the guard.

The inaugural X Games Austin, Resonance says, drew 160,000 attendees in June. And a massive hotel development boom will add 4,000 rooms and cement Austin as one of the top hotel markets in Texas. Add to that international events like Formula 1 and our job growth rate and you've got a recipe for change.

Despite more than 100 people moving here per day and houses selling at an unheard of pace, we can hold onto one shining truth. We're keeping Austin weird — or at least a little more local — for now. 

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