LA FERIA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Winter Texan season is officially here and with border crossing and COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the season is expected to be better than last year, according to experts.

Owner of Welcome Home RGV, Kristi Collier, provides resources for Winter Texans and local businesses that cater to them, such as RV parks.

She said there were about 50% fewer Winter Texans last year due to the pandemic, but that has changed this season.

“Typically the season starts  November 1st, but we had people coming as early as the end of August, firsts of September,” said Collier.

She explained that Canadian travelers are an important part of the season.

“We were really worried about the Canadians not being able to come this year because some of our parks are at 70, 80, some even 90% Canadians,” she said.

Collier said she has received calls from Canadian friends explaining that the wait to cross to the United States was not long.

Winter Texans play a big role in the economy each year, according to Collier.

“UTRGV does a survey every couple of years, and they estimate that we have 100,000 Winter Texans that come to our area and that they spend each season, $700,000, that’s the economic impact,” she said.

The economic impact directly affects RV Parks in the area and Kenwood RV Resort in La Feria, is home to many of the winter visitors.

 “We are so excited this year because last year was definitely quieter, we missed our Kenwood family, you know not many people were ready to travel,” said property manager of Kenwood RV Resort, Rosie Cabrera.

She said the resort has received calls since the summer inquiring about reservations for this season.

“We’re projecting a record year because of the calls that we’re getting. The reservations are there,” said Cabrera.

She explained that the resort will offer more activities this year and will be closer to a normal season, unlike last year with limitations due to the pandemic.

“We are excited about all the activities and for everything that we were missing last year. We miss them and we’re ready for them,” she said.

A Winter Texan from Nebraska, Gail Ferguson, said she and her husband have been traveling to the Rio Grande Valley yearly for the last couple of years.

“We come down for a month in October, then stay for a month and then go back home for the holidays,” said Ferguson,

She explained that their plan includes returning in January after the holidays to continue their visit in the Rio Grande Valley.

“It was difficult for most people last year when most everything was shut down, but we felt very safe when we were here,” she said.

Ferguson said aside from staying active outdoors, she hopes to participate in more activities.

“One thing we didn’t do much last year that we’ve already done this year is doing a lot more site seeing of the valley,” she said.

Winter Texans have many locations to travel to, but according to Kristi Collier, South Texas is one of the preferred locations.

“You’ll hear from other people who have said ‘oh we tried Florida or oh we tried Arizona’ but it’s the friendliness of the people is what gets them to come back,” she said.