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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Santa’s Wonderland and College Station gear up to welcome economic growth

Photo by Abbey Santoro

A joint sponsorship between Santa’s Wonderland and College Station signals increased tourism and economic growth this winter.

Christmas began in February in Bryan-College Station with a sponsorship negotiation for Santa’s Wonderland. 

Eight months later, on Sept. 28, the College Station City Council agreed to renew a $75,000 sponsorship between the city and Santa’s Wonderland, a Christmas-themed amusement park located off Highway Six. The deal included joint advertisement, family activities and a month of festivities. This three-year agreement, an idea born out of a need to preserve tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, is refocusing to include neighboring businesses in Bryan-College Station as well.

City of College Station Tourism Manager Jeremiah Cook said the emphasis on Christmas comes at a time when the economy is slow in College Station. 

“[Santa’s Wonderland] is the cornerstone of an entire campaign we run throughout December,” Cook said. “We’re really trying to get people to not only come to Santa’s Wonderland but come into College Station and spend their money locally.” 

The sponsorship includes shuttles and overnight parking from Post Oak Mall to Santa’s Wonderland and is a part of the Christmas in College Station campaign, an advertisement campaign marketing College Station as the largest outdoor Christmas attraction in the Southern U.S. 

In a statement released Sept. 28th, Santa’s Wonderland said the sponsorship has had a significant effect on the local economy. 

“Over 80% of guests traveled from over 50 miles away to come to College Station and experience the magic of Santa’s Wonderland,” the statement reads. “Twenty-one percent of Santa’s Wonderland guests, equivalent to 66,732 individuals, chose to stay overnight in local hotels during their Christmas in College Station experience.”

The funding for the $75,000 sponsorship comes from hotel occupancy taxes, which serve the dual purpose of increasing revenue for local businesses as well as allowing for increased funding for tourism in local communities. 

The Christmas in College Station campaign, run by Visit College Station, places Santa’s Wonderland in the center of multiple events held during the holiday season, from Nov. 12 to Dec. 31. 

The events include artisan markets, a Christmas parade, the St. Nick’s Fun Run and themed event weekends. The heart of the campaign is found in hotels and signage across College Station, Cook said.

Marketing junior Natalie Overend, the marketing director for Dovetail Ink in Austin, said the festivities will be the most exciting part. 

“The most visible part of this campaign is all of the attractions, the Christmas lights, Santa’s Wonderland and other parts of the winter season,” Overend said. 

Overend said the positive effects on the economy would outweigh any disruptions in traffic the event might have. 

“A lot of this is marketed for the time period where college students are on winter break,” Overend said. “I see it having more of an effect on the permanent residents of Bryan and College Station.” 

With most college students gone during the campaign window, Cook said the need for an effective partnership between Santa’s Wonderland and College Station is important.

“At the end of the day, we need visitors in town, so that our restaurants stay open, so that our retail stays open,” Cook said. “So much of that is attributed to us as local community members, but also tourists coming to visit. They play a very important role in our community.”

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