Economic impact of Mexican shoppers during Easter
With spring break in its second week, another holiday is expected to bring out-of-town visitors to the Valley.
"We're hoping to have a really good year," said McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Steve Ahlenius.
Visitors coming in from Mexico for the Easter holiday are expected to boost the local economy.
Ahlenius says he’s optimistic about a higher number of visitors coming this year compared to last. On average, Mexican visitors make up about 33 percent of retail sales in McAllen. Last year, though, those numbers weren't as big as years past.
“Last year was down because of the violence in Reynosa," Ahlenius said.
However, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce is confident about a bigger turnout this year. They believe that with more police and military presence on Tamaulipas highways, Mexican drivers are feeling more confident in hitting the road to the Rio Grande Valley.
Other factors that led to less visitors was the political rhetoric from President Trump and a weak Mexican peso.
"I don't want to say animosity,” Ahlenius said. “But they were saying, 'You know what, we can take our money and spend it other places.'’"
With the higher influx of tourists also comes major back-ups northbound on the international bridges, like Anzalduas International Bridge. Most visitors from Monterrey are expected to use this bridge, according to Ahlenius.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will be paid about $23,000 in total in overtime, along with opening additional lanes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 23, 25 and 29.
The Anzalduas Bridge will also be providing water to those waiting in line, along with rides to and from the restroom.