Local economy blooms alongside the azaleas

Local economy blooms alongside the azaleas

The 54th Annual Azalea and Spring Flower Trail kicked off Friday morning and the city hopes visitors leave a big economic footprint. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson reports.

The 2012 trail brought in nearly two million tourist dollars for the local economy and over the past 54 years the trail has grown to be 10 miles featuring nearly 200 homes. It's still attracting tourist, repeat and new, and benefiting our local economy.

"It's beautiful. I didn't think you'd have flowers yet it's so early in the year, but it's really, really beautiful," said Teresa Anderson. She and her daughter Melissa are from Dallas and two of about 100, 000 tourist that will visit the Azalea Trail. This is their first time. "We wanted to come to Tyler and see the azalea tour and we're going to spend the night and probably have a really nice dinner some where and just have some girl time!"  

It's that type of itinerary that Kim Morris with the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau said equals big bucks for our local economy. "The economic boom is across the board for these azalea trail visitors." 

Morris explained tourist dollars are considered "fresh dollars" and what help our economy grow. "When someone from Dallas or Houston or Canada brings their dollar in to Tyler, those dollars have been no where else in the economy so they actually equal about three of our local dollar." 

It's a concept that makes sense to Encore Consignment owner Marly Meyer, whose shop is in the Azalea District. "We really enjoy it. We meet a lot of out-of-towners and every time they come in for the azalea trail they'll come by the store and say hi so we get to make friends with it too."  

Meyer said while she doesn't sell much furniture during the trail she sells a lot of smaller items, and helps tourists. "If they have any questions, come in this store. I draw maps for them all the time, and we have the maps and little shopping information for everybody." 

Because from azaleas to dogwoods and other spring blooms, the trail can require some preparation.

Since it is a10 mile trail, visitors said they like to come and stretch it out over a few days, not take the whole 10 miles in at once, but it is a good exercise and way to walk. The Azalea Trail continues through April 7 and trail homeowners said the flowers should be in full bloom within the next five days.

Over the next four weeks the Azalea Trial features dozens of other activities. You can check out the full list by clicking here.



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