Lackluster Landmark?

Legendary San Antonio landmark dissed as worst tourist trap in Texas

Legendary San Antonio landmark dissed as worst tourist trap in Texas

The Alamo, mission, San Antonio, November 2012
Business Insider says the Alamo is forgettable.  Photo by Paco Montoya

Forget the Alamo. That’s the advice from Business Insider in dubbing the famed San Antonio attraction the “worst tourist trap” in Texas. 

“Remember the Alamo? More like, spend a day at the Alamo and you’ll remember to never go back,” the business website opined in its ranking of the worst tourist trap in each state. “The building’s remains are so small they consistently disappoint visitors.”

It adds: “History buffs might get a kick out of it for an hour or so, but looking at a picture will suffice for most.”

Business Insider isn’t the only media outlet that’s been dumping on the Alamo recently. A headline on a Houston Chronicle piece about a plan aimed at revitalizing the landmark and surrounding plaza called the Alamo “forgettable.”

On May 11, the San Antonio City Council unanimously approved the $450 million Alamo improvement plan.

“San Antonio quite literally grew up around this former mission — it’s the physical and spiritual heart of our city,” San Antonio City Councilman Roberto Treviño said in an April release. “This plan presents a spectacular vision and strategy for achieving something we’ve been trying to do for decades, and that is to redesign the Alamo Complex in a way that appropriately honors its history and connection to the urban core of San Antonio.”

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the plan as Treviño is. The “reimagining” of the Alamo has drawn criticism for, among other things, simply being “window dressing” and adding inappropriately modern features.

Bashing of the Alamo and the planned overhaul comes amid continued fretting over a decline in visitor numbers for the landmark and other San Antonio tourism fixtures. The Rivard Report points out that the Alamo “once was the centerpiece of San Antonio’s visitor experience” but has been the subject of negative publicity in recent years.

For instance, the Rivard Report cites the now-settled squabble between the State of Texas and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas over management of the site, along with “widespread criticism over the lack of historical context and ambience in and around Alamo Plaza, which is filled with tourists attracted to garish entertainment venues, a barking street preacher or two, and ubiquitous tour buses. The plaza is devoid of thoughtful cultural exchange.”

The Alamo attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year.

Gene Powell, chairman of the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee, says the $450 million redo of the landmark will put the Alamo in the same class as military battlefields in places like Gettysburg and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“This project will return dignity and reverence to the site for the first time in 181 years and will give the visitor a clear vision of the events that occurred here in 1836 and over the 300 years of layered history,” Powell says.