Other Voices

Congress can boost tourism to cities like Fort Worth, and it won’t cost taxpayers

The Fort Worth Herd just celebrated its 20th anniversary. As a Texan, there is nothing I enjoy more than honoring our state’s cowboy heritage by watching the famous cattle drive through the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. It’s a sight to see.

The city’s history is brought to life when the twice-daily longhorn cattle drive commences through the Stockyards. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said it best, “Fort Worth is cowboys and culture, and there’s nothing much more Texas than longhorn cattle.”

The cattle drive has been a popular attraction from the start. Twenty years ago, the first cattle drive took place in front of 15,000 on-lookers. Since then, the event has become increasingly popular, with more than nine million tourists visiting the Stockyards since it launched.

It’s a unique feature of our city that appeals to people all around the world. One reason the event is so well-liked is that today’s cattle drive stays true to its roots. Visitors who come to learn about our cowboy culture get an authentic experience in the Stockyards.

Practically every element of the Fort Worth Herd is historically accurate and genuine to the original drives that occurred 150 years ago.

Since so many are already visiting this tourist attraction, think how economically beneficial it would be if even more visited us throughout the year — and not just other Texans and Americans. Imagine sharing the Fort Worth Herd and our western heritage around the world.

An organization called Brand USA aims to make that happen, marketing American cities like Fort Worth and our Stockyards to global travelers.

Brand USA is a public-private partnership that doesn’t cost U.S. taxpayers a dime. Instead, its work is funded through a small fee associated with the Visa Waiver Program and paid by international visitors when they enter the U.S.

Unfortunately, Brand USA is at risk of dying because of congressional inaction. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, is an excellent ambassador to fight for Brand USA’s reauthorization. As the former mayor and our voice in Washington, I know she has a special place in her heart for promoting Fort Worth and sharing our unique culture far and wide, which is why I’m confident she will support Brand USA’s renewal.

For the past 150 years, cattle has been an integral part of Fort Worth’s economy, from the price of the livestock to the tourists now drawn here for the twice-daily Stockyards event. And nothing makes a Fort Worth resident happier than sharing it with the world — and as a native, I can tell you Fort Worth deserves to be celebrated by millions more.

The longhorn cattle drives jump-started Fort Worth’s nascent economy after the Civil War ,when Texas’s abundance of longhorn cattle were incredibly valuable in other parts of the country. According to Visit Fort Worth, the longhorn cattle drive from Fort Worth to the railheads in Kansas was considered the greatest migration of livestock in the history of the world.

More than six million longhorns were sold from 1867 to 1871 and the economic reward from the cattle drive was put right back into our state’s economy.

The Stockyards are a living connection to Texas history, one that should be fondly remembered and celebrated with friends, family, and tourists around the world alike. As a true Texan, I understand how great our state is and hope that — with Brand USA’s continued help — even more people around the world will, too.

Tracy Nava is a Fort Worth native and resident who is a community leader and advocate against domestic violence.
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