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Inside the Park Board

Posted on: May 7, 2019

2018 Tourism Numbers Break Records

Galveston Island welcomed 7.2 million visitors in 2018, up from 7 million in 2017. The numbers reflect another record-breaking tourism season that has a far-reaching impact to the island.

The figures come from an economic impact study commissioned by the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and conducted by Philadelphia-based Tourism Economics. The report shows that tourism in Galveston has increased steadily for the last several years, with visitation growing nearly 30 percent since 2011.

All these visitors, overnight guests and day trippers, spent $872.2 million here in 2018. That spending generated $1.2 billion in economic activity.

“The majority of these visitors are coming here not only for Galveston’s beaches but to discover its historic and family attractions,” Park Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said. “This is a testament to the marketing and public relations strategies put in place at the CVB coupled with the efforts of our tourism partners who continue to develop new reasons for travelers to visit.”

Cruise passengers increased 5.5 percent in 2018. At 985,000, embarkations were 59.7 percent higher than the 2006 peak of 617,000. This sector continues to grow and made a strong contribution to overall visitor growth last year.

While visitors are clearly taking advantage of the amenities Galveston has to offer, residents are also winning big. Tourism sustained 11,646 jobs in Galveston last year, representing one in every three jobs on the island. Employment growth in Galveston’s tourism industry is outpacing overall job growth. Since the 2009 unemployment trough, tourism job growth amounts to 24.2 percent compared to 14 percent for total employment.

Additionally, tourism generated $177.2 million in tax revenues in 2018. Tourism-driven state and local tax proceeds of $87.5 million helped offset the average Galveston household tax burden by $4,233. While tourism generated a significant amount of hotel occupancy tax (HOT) revenue that is restricted, it also contributed $49.6 million in local tax revenue, accounting for 49.5 percent of the city of Galveston’s General Fund.

The economic impact report was presented Thursday at the fifth annual Tourism Summit held at the Galveston Island Convention Center and organized by the CVB. More than 500 people from the tourism industry attended the free event.

View the 2018 Economic Impact of Tourism Anaylsis
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