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Focus of Austin Tourism Shifts With Temporary Spam Museum Closure

Created: 05/27/2014 8:20 PM KAALtv.com
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 News) -- It's the centerpiece of Austin's tourism industry, attracting visitors by the tens of thousands every year. But what would it mean for tourism if we didn't have the SPAM Museum? In a couple of months, we're going to find out.

“We'll just focus on the other attractions," said Austin Convention Visitor’s Bureau director Nancy Schnable.

In 2016, a new SPAM Museum will open on the spot where fire destroyed several downtown businesses. It means the existing SPAM Museum will close late this September and be closed for all of 2015.

"As soon as it hit the media we started getting calls immediately" Nancy Schnable told ABC6 news. Those calls came from groups that were already planning to visit Austin in 2015.

"There are thousands of leisure travelers who come in Austin every year, and over a hundred tour and travel groups that make this a destination every year," Nancy Schnable told us.

But next year, the spam museum won't be one of their options.

"There's a lot of stuff to do in Austin and we just kind of redirected them," CVB director Nancy Schnable said. “Visiting the new Art Works Center, the Hormel Historic Home, the beautiful nature center."

“In the summer especially we get a lot of tour groups here, including a group of 50 from Hawaii,” Hormel Institute spokesman Tim Ruzek said.

The Institute has seen an increase in tourism in recent years.

"Usually they've either just been to the SPAM Museum when they come here or they're heading there next."

And the Austin CVB hopes to turn the closing of the SPAM Museum into a two-for-one.

"We're saying come here and experience everything there is, and when you come back in 2016 the new spam museum will be open," the CVBs Nancy Schnable said.

"And hopefully we'll be able to help fill the void when they're down for over a year," the Hormel Institute’s Tim Ruzek added.

Look for a gala grand opening celebration of the new SPAM Museum in 2016, which is also the 125th anniversary of the Hormel Foods Corporation.