San Antonio tourism gets boost from pandemic grant program – San Antonio Express-News

A $180 million program set up to offer grants to tourism, travel and hospitality businesses affected by the pandemic is expanding to include more businesses of types that serve visitors to San Antonio.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that operators of boat and bus tours, charter buses, passenger car rentals and scheduled passenger air transportation can apply for the Texas Travel Industry Recovery Grant Program beginning Feb. 1.

Arts and recreation businesses, hotels, campgrounds, convention and visitors bureaus, event planning organizers, restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries were already eligible.

“Travel and tourism are critical to both the Texas economy and local economies,” Abbott said in a statement. “Visitor spending at Texas destinations brings more revenue into communities and spurs local job creation across industries in every region of our state.”

It’s also an important segment in the San Antonio economy, which is boosted by summer tourism and meeting and convention business year-round.

Eligible businesses can receive one-time reimbursement grants of up to $20,000 through the program, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The program was created by the Legislature that year.

Applicants must have been in operation in Texas before Jan. 20, 2020, be open to the public or provide services for in-person events and be able to demonstrate the financial impact of the pandemic, according to the state’s website.

The money can be used for payroll and certain benefits expenses, rent, utilities, professional bookkeeping services and other costs.

It’s unclear how much of the $180 million has been distributed so far and why the newly eligible businesses were not previously included. Abbott’s press office did not respond to an inquiry.

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