It turns out all those travel writers coming to Houston and raving about the food — as well as the slick adverts starring Jim Parsons and The Tontons — have made an impact on how people view the city.
In a survey commissioned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Houston was ranked the top regional destination for "variety of dining options" and in "culture/performing arts" among cities that included Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and New Orleans — Houston's main competitors for visitors.
Are Chris Shepherd, Justin Yu and Hugo Ortega the new John Besh, Susan Spicer and Emeril Lagasse? It seems possible at this point.
Houston pulling ahead is pretty significant considering that Dallas recently opened the massive AT&T Performing Arts Center, which includes four new arts venues for opera, theater and dance performances. In addition, Houston has long lived in the shadow of New Orleans' celebrated Creole culinary tradition. Are Chris Shepherd, Justin Yu and Hugo Ortega the new John Besh, Susan Spicer and Emeril Lagasse? It seems possible at this point.
The changing perception of H-Town seems to be having an effect on travel patterns as well. According to the Houston Chronicle, visits to Houston increased 20 percent between 2010 and 2011, although the lion's share of the increase (and of Houston's visitors in general) are coming to the city for business.