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Heavy tourist season expected in Amarillo

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Amarillo, TX - If you live in Amarillo, you probably don't think of it as a tourist destination - but tourism is actually one of the city's biggest economic drivers, and local analysts expect a significant boost this year.

Tourism is an often-overlooked industry in Amarillo, but local tourism accounts for more than $300 million in direct spending every year.

"There are a lot of traditional sectors of our economy that we're all familiar with, like ranching, oil and gas, banking," says Eric Miller of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce.  "But tourism is also up there as one of the largest sectors of the Amarillo economy."

Palo Duro Canyon and Route 66 draw visitors from all over the country, and the businesses along sixth street are especially reliant on tourism dollars.  Bubba Winchester, the manager of Smokey Joe's Bar & Grill, says he sees business pick up Substantially every year.

"Summer days, it's just crazy - crazy busy," says Winchester.  "You know, $3,000 lunches, $4,000 dinners -- very good days."

And the money that those tourists spend makes its way back into the local economy in both the short and long term.

"Tourism facilities are hotels, they're restaurants, they're attractions," says Miller.  "They're spread out throughout our city, but they employ over four thousand people in Potter and Randall County."

This year's local ANB economic forecast predicts a five percent increase in tourism in 2013.  If you'd like to see that forecast for yourself, follow the link attached to this story.

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