Located just southeast of Austin lies one of the most historic towns in the state—Bastrop. It's a place that prides itself on its rich culture, with can’t-miss annual events, weekly live music, broad outdoor adventure, historic charm, an abundance of art galleries and so much more. With Bastrop’s special brand of southern hospitality, it’s a place where locals and tourists alike can unplug, relax and let the good times roll.

While many may associate tourism with greater crowds and increased traffic, tourism brings substantial benefits and value to a destination. Whether it’s through increased job opportunities, preservation of the local economy’s history and culture or infrastructure development, tourism is a driving force in maintaining and growing a destination.

Economic Growth

As travelers look to Bastrop as a vacation destination, whether it be through a cross-country trip or a Texas staycation, an increased demand for jobs, local businesses, transportation and more arises.

“From an economic standpoint, tourism prompts growth of a destination by creating jobs and boosting the local business economy,” said Ashton LaFuente, Director of Marketing at Visit Bastrop. “Hyatt Regency Lost Pines is a perfect example of this. When the resort opened its doors in 2006, it brought with it between 500-700 hospitality jobs for our community, making it the largest private employer in Bastrop County."

Not to mention, tourism can also create a demand for infrastructure development on things like renovations to old buildings, transportation options, new business and more. All that to say, there are many factors that play into the economic growth of a destination, and Bastrop is no exception.

Increased Revenue

Another benefit of tourism is the increased revenue that it brings to a destination. When traveling, it's no secret that visitors will be spending money in the destination they visit. In fact, many travelers spend more on vacation than they would in their day-to-day lives. With this, a tourist in Bastrop is sure to contribute to the increased revenue of the city.

“Not only does Bastrop make money through the hotel occupancy tax, but it also sees an increase in revenue through sales tax when people use forms of transportation, eat in local restaurants, shop at local businesses and visit Bastrop’s unique attractions,” LaFuente said.

History and Culture Preservation

As Bastrop is one of the most historic towns in the state, there are numerous historic museums and landmarks that play a key role in telling the story of the destination. The Bastrop Museum & Visitor Center is home to collections and exhibits that attract historians, genealogists, families and more to Bastrop, with artifacts that span more than 200 years. Just down the street, the Lost Pines Art Center showcases galleries, traveling exhibits and classroom space, which allows travelers and locals to immerse themselves in Bastrop’s thriving art scene.

Museums like this play a huge role in telling the story of a destination; where it started versus where it is now. Not only do visitors contribute to the preservation of this history and culture, but locals can take pride in their foundation knowing that tourism to Bastrop aids in keeping their story alive.

Overall, Visit Bastrop plays an important role in facilitating the tourism industry in Bastrop. From investing in PR efforts that showcase Bastrop’s charming downtown streets, and developing marketing campaigns, Visit Bastrop is a vital organization in the community that aids in putting Bastrop on the map.

“Visit Bastrop is committed to putting Bastrop’s best foot forward,” LaFuente said. “We’re extremely proud that Visit Bastrop is the number one resource for visitor related information and events. Our data shows that not only are travelers looking to us for this information, but locals are turning to us as well, which allows them the opportunity to view Bastrop through a different lens and experience the city in a whole new light.”

Ready to plan your trip? Here are some annual upcoming events in Bastrop you won’t want to miss. To aid in the planning of your visit to Bastrop, check out the Visit Bastrop website for insider information on where to stay, what to eat, things to do and more.

Nov. 25: Lost Pines Wassail Fest and Small Business Saturday

Holiday shoppers and visitors are invited to downtown Bastrop for the Sixth annual Wassail Fest. The event coincides with Small Business Saturday, and visitors can try entrees’ unique version of Wassail, a mulled cider. Local and visitors alike can vote for their favorite recipe in the coveted annual People’s Choice Awards.

Nov. 25: Bastrop River of Lights

Take in the River of Lights this holiday season. The lighted riverwalk features numerous lighted displays in a variety of seasonal themes lining Bastrop's scenic June Hill Pape Riverwalk. To access this one-half-mile promenade, come down the stairs west of the intersection of Main and Pine Street or select the fully accessible entrance at Fisherman's Park on Willow Street.

Nov. 25: Lost Pines Christmas Tree Lighting

Feel the Christmas spirit come alive with the City of Bastrop Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 25 in Fisherman’s Park along the River of Lights. The lighting of the City’s Christmas tree and a special visit from Santa Claus begin at 6:00 pm.

Dec 1 – 17: “It’s a Wonderful Life – Live Radio Play”

Come celebrate the warmth of the holiday season with a live radio play at the Bastrop Opera House. Don't touch your dial! America's favorite holiday classic is live on stage at a snowbound 1940's radio station, with every memorable character, wacky sound effect, and the heartwarming conclusion of the iconic film recreated live before your ears - and eyes! With humor and humanity, George Bailey's tale of love, loss, and redemption mixes an exuberant cast into a radio days hit come to life! A heaven-sent gift for the entire family.

Dec. 9: Holiday Homes Tour

Head to downtown Bastrop on December 9th for one of the most wonderful times of the year! For more than 40 years, the Holiday Homes tour has showcased Bastrop’s historic past by opening the doors to our town’s most beautiful homes and this year will be no different. This event is hosted by the Bastrop County Historical Society.

Dec. 9: Lost Pines Christmas Lighted Parade

This event will feature over 130 entries—from fanciful floats to fire trucks, unicycles to vintage cars, and a special visit from the big man himself: Santa Claus. Produced by the City of Bastrop, this joyful Bastrop tradition literally lights up the Bastrop Lost Pines Christmas festivities. The parade begins at dusk (approximately 6:00 p.m.) and will head south down Main Street.

For more information about Christmas events in Bastrop, visit lostpineschristmas.com.

The above story was produced by Senior Multi Platform Journalist Summer El-Shahawy with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.