River Walk video scaring off tourists
SAN ANTONIO - Local business leaders say River Walk videos posted online are leading millions of people to get the wrong idea and some to even cancel trips to San Antonio. Now, at least two organizations are working to set the record straight.
The footage shows a spot across from Casa Rio during heavy rain, when people can see an impressive display of water from the street draining to the river. City workers usually chain off that section of the River Walk temporarily.
The scene often draws the attention of people who snap photos and shoot videos that they post online. One from early June had nearly a million views as of Thursday, and Paula Schechter of the Paseo del Rio Association said each of those people likely told a few friends.
"Every time this happens, something shows up on Facebook," Schechter said.
Someone posted "Texas flooding!" regarding the latest storm. Another wrote "River Walk flooding June 3rd."
"It's like 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling,'" Schechter said, "but it's not."
The water never rises too high thanks to the system of locks and dams.
"It keeps people away and when people are canceling their hotel reservations, that means they're not dining in the restaurants, and they're not shopping, and they're not doing the attractions," she said. "That means people aren't working."
Ryan Wood, sales manager at Dick's Last Resort, said a customer called last year, asking whether the restaurant would be open 30 days later for his event.
"Obviously, our business never even closed for a single day or a single hour," Wood said.
He pointed out many plan vacations at the end of spring and in the early summer, and if they're seeing that the River Walk is impacted by flooding, families may choose another destination.
Schechter is talking with city officials about a new sign that could be rolled out during heavy rain, telling people the River Walk is not flooding. She'd like the sign to be large enough that it's visible in every photo and video.
The Paseo del Rio Association is still fielding calls about the most recent posts online. Some callers are asking "Should I cancel my vacation?" and "I'm coming out in July on vacation. Will the River Walk still be flooded?"
A Facebook comment posted May 2015 read: "We were supposed to be there this weekend. Glad we decided not to go."
"It's hard to believe they believe it's actually flooding," Wood said.
The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau is even reaching out to the national TV networks that sometimes air the footage to help dispel the myth of flooding on the River Walk. Two live cameras on the Bureau's website (toward the bottom of the homepage) show current conditions in the area.
"It's impossible for the River Walk to flood," Schechter said. "The downtown section of the River Walk cannot flood. Period."