The city’s hospitality bureau is attempting to attract visitors to San Antonio by inviting aspiring local storytellers to create internet videos sharing tales about what they believe makes San Antonio unique.

Visit San Antonio (VSA) announced the marketing initiative on Sept. 10 and has received more than 45 submissions for the project, called Visit San Antonio TV.

Visit San Antonio TV is a departure from traditional professionally produced television commercials and is intended to result in authentic, original videos borne out of stories told by everyday people.

Andres Munoz, vice president of marketing communications and tourism for VSA, said the initiative was conceived because of the consumer’s desire for more video.

“The more tools we have that are video-oriented, the better off our exposure is going to be overall,” Munoz said. “We all talk about our rich heritage, how unique and authentic our destination is. Nothing would sell the city better than our own authentic stories. … Real gems are hidden in every corner of our city.”

Visit San Antonio is accepting submissions through Oct. 17, after which it will choose the winning storytellers and develop two series with four episodes each. Future plans include adding more stories to VSA’s online channels. The series will be available on VisitSanAntonio.TV and YouTube in early 2020.

“We are not looking for produced material,” Munoz said, adding that a video captured with a cellphone camera would work. “It could be as organic as that. Just do it. We’ll take care of the production and develop it as we go.”

VSA staff will be working with its ad agency, the Atkins Group, to select from the submissions, and those selected will be invited to pitch an idea in person. The stories chosen will be made into a show featuring the storyteller, who would be compensated according to how the other actors and contributors are paid.

VisitSanAntonio.TV programming is supported by VSA’s $12 million annual promotions budget, funded by the hotel occupancy tax and the City’s new Tourism Public Improvement District.

More than 39 million people visit the San Antonio metro area every year. Visit San Antonio estimates the tourism and hospitality industry generates $15.2 billion annually in economic impact.

“We want to find those ‘diamonds in the rough’ who can tell us of the true character and warmth of our great city,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of VSA. “We know that what inspires more customer trust in a brand’s story than anything else is authenticity. We feel this is a wonderful way to drive engagement with our brand, San Antonio.”

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...