Castroville is located twenty miles from the town of San Antonio. It is more of a village than a city which was established in 1844 by Henri Castro and other immigrants from the Alsace region in France. Since its foundation, Castroville still maintains features that were established by the founding fathers (Baker, 1986, p. 243). There are numerous tourism resources within the town. Some of them include the presence of Alsatian culture that is practiced by people living in the town. The orders in which buildings are structured resemble the traditional models. Even now tourists visit the region to see the barns, cisterns, and smokehouses that were constructed in the area. The region is surrounded by river valleys. Cross Hill is another important figure in the city where people visit. The hill allows visitors to have a clear view of Castroville and Median valley (Fehr, 1978, p. 34). Castroville hotels are furnished with French furniture, beds, silver forks as well as servants. This makes one of the delights for all people who visit the town.
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When Castro arrived at Castroville, he decided to establish a dam at Medina River which could help in irrigating their crops. With time the dam became one of the main tourist attraction sites in the region (Jordan, 1985, p. 128). Medina Lake is another tourism resource in the region. The lake experience a massive number of tourists who visit it for water recreation activities. The cultural heritage of the region is dominated by the Alsatian community. Most of the clubs in the region practice Alsatian culture. The availability of numerous hotels that host Alsatian cultural ceremonies makes the area attractive to tourists. There has been the establishment of Alsatian dance groups and costumes which facilitate the conservation of the culture in Castroville (Lawler, 1968, p. 321). Tourists travel from far and wide to witness performances from these groups. Till now, there are numerous artifacts still preserved by the community in the region. The region has numerous scenic roads that have strong historic character (Olmsted, 1991, pp. 45-63).
Castroville is surrounded by valleys; these valleys give attractive sceneries where tourists get a clear view of the cities major landmarks. Numerous rivers in the area regularly supply river medina with water hence making it possible for tourists to enjoy water recreation throughout the year. Its massive land provides for the raring of wildlife and game parks which are some of the tourist resources in the region. Regional Park is established along the banks of the Median River.
Advantages of the region in maintaining its Tourism resources
With time, most of the tourism resources of the region have been facing extinction; one of them being its Alsatian culture. To mitigate the problem, the community has established an Alsatian dictionary where the coming generations can learn the language and culture (Williams, 1982, pp. 24-32). This has been one of the advantages that have helped in strengthening the culture among people living in the region. The establishment of dance groups has also made people feel associated with the culture making them devote themselves to its maintenance and preservation. They have even established a period when people meet and speak the dialect. This has facilitated in bringing cohesion among the community thus helping in preserving the culture. Realization of the threat that posed their tourism resources on time was advantage to people living in Castroville (Waugh, 1986, p. 76). This made them take the initiative of addressing the problem together. The move by the government to incorporate the community in its tourism conservation strategy will bear fruits. This is because most of the tourism resources in the area are directly managed by the community. This means that the community will understand the importance of their contribution to the region hence putting in their effort.
Problems affecting Castroville in its bid to conserve tourism resources
Despite the people understanding the threats facing their tourism resources, numerous problems make them not effectively conserve the resources. Spirit for city development is high among the people living in Castroville. Most of the unincorporated land in the city especially along the highways is being sold out for commercial development (Waugh, 1955, p. 98). As there are no regulations to guide this move, most of the cultural landscapes in the city are in threat of being demolished and converted to commercial structures. The establishment of Highway 90; which passes through the city has led to the establishment of commercial buildings along with it. These buildings have hidden most of the historical and cultural architecture in the city making it hard for visits to identify them. The highway has become a nightmare for both the tourists and pedestrians in the city (Kuehe & Cyril, 1999, p. 154). Lack of proper management of River Merida has led to it flooding its banks. This is becoming a threat to Regional Park.
Recommendations on how to stimulate tourism in the area
To enhance tourism in Castroville, various actions need to be taken by both the community and the leaders in the area. It is imperative for all the stakeholders in the city to understand the benefits of preserving their cultural and historical architecture within the city. The establishment of Highway 90 has resulted in most of the historical architectures being hidden from tourists. The highway has also scared away tourists. To ensure that the city continues receiving visitors, there is a need for highway improvement through establishing streetscaping, gateways, and signage along the highway. Media Lake acts as one of the tourist attraction sites. The lake must be improved to offer more recreational services as well as act as a natural conservative. There is a need for the establishment of design guidelines to facilitate in the erection of commercial structures along the highway (Goeldner, 1974, pp. 123-132). There is a need for managing flow of River Merida so as to ensure that it does not threaten the park during rainy seasons.
Baker, T. (1986). Building the lone star: An illustrated guide to historical sites. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
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Goeldner, P. (1974). Texas catalog: Historic American Building survey. San Antonio: Trinity University Press.
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Kuehe, S. M. & Cyril, M. (1999). Ripples from Medina Lake. San Antonio: The Naylor Company.
Lawler, R. (1968). The story of Castroville: Its people, founder and traditions. Texas: University of Texas Press.
Olmsted, F. (1991). A journey through Texas: Or a saddle-trip on a southwestern frontier. New York: Dix, Edwards.
Waugh, J. N. (1955). The silver cradle. Austin: The University of Texas Press.
Waugh, J. N. (1986). Castro-ville and Henry Castro Empresario. New York: Neale Publishing Company.
Williams, D. (1982). An indigenous Architecture: some Texas colonial houses. Southwest Review, 14, pp. 24-32.