The number of Winter Texans coming to the Valley has fallen, and folks at the University of Texas-Pan American want to know why.
They're asking Winter Texans to fill out a survey on its website. Penny Simpson, director of the Valley Markets and Tourism Research Center, said it will take about 15-20 minutes.
"We want to know what we can do, both in the Valley to improve the Valley to make it very winter Texan friendly and for the parks, so they know what kind of amenities to offer," Simpson said.
Winter Texans make a big impact on the Valley economy. The report estimated each household spends almost $11,000 during each stay and estimated the total impact to the local economy at $751 million.
The center conducts a survey every two years. In 2010, it showed 140,000 Winter Texans in 75,000 households. By 2012, that number dropped to 133,000 in 69,000 households.
It also showed the average age of the Winter Texan had increased from 70 in 2010 to 71 in 2012. A study in 2004 estimated the average age at 68.
Simpson said it's unclear if the younger baby boomer generation is just not coming to the Valley or if previous Winter Texans are not returning.
"The big concern is the age was also increasing," Simpson said. "The bigger question is are the younger ones going to come and replace the older ones as they no longer come?"
The survey is available online at www.utpa.edu/WinterTexan. Those who respond by Feb. 26 will be eligible to win a Kindle Fire.
"This is, I think, a Winter Texan's voice," Simpson said. "This is the opportunity to share their opinions. The results will be shared with the parks and valley leaders."
Julie Silva is editor of the Mid-Valley Town Crier in Weslaco.
TAKE THE SURVEY
>> Visit www.utpa.edu/WinterTexan to take the Winter Texan survey. Respondents who complete it by Feb. 26 could win a Kindle Fire tablet computer.