Anyone who lives in Galveston knows that the island is a popular tourist destination. Each year for the past three years, more than 6 million people have visited the island.

While Galveston certainly attracts many visitors, many of them stay for a day or two. Given all that the island has to offer in terms of attractions, museums, shops and restaurants, the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau would like to attract visitors who will spend more time here, getting to know the island beyond the beach.

To that end, the CVB is focusing its marketing efforts on increasing the amount of “engaged visitors” to Galveston.

The criteria for an engaged visitor are that he or she will stay multiple nights in the destination, visit multiple venues while here, visit year-round and will immerse themselves in “the Galveston experience.” By attracting more engaged visitors, the CVB hopes to increase overnight visitation during the shoulder seasons and increase visitor spending on the island.

It’s one thing to hope for these engaged visitors, it’s another to put a plan in place to attract them. With input from stakeholders, partners and the park board’s Tourism Development Advisory Committee, the CVB has outlined strategies to reach its goals. Among them are to expand marketing efforts in regional drive markets throughout the state, give dominant position to Galveston’s historic and cultural attractions in marketing messaging, build targeted marketing campaigns for spring, fall and winter seasons, and promote pre- and post-cruise opportunities to cruise passengers.

Up to now, the average visitor to Galveston spends 1.8 days in a hotel and 4.5 days in a vacation rental.

The short stays are tied to the fact that a large portion of our visitor base, 48.6 percent, comes from Houston. While this illustrates that Houston is indeed a very important part of our tourist base, their proximity to the island is conducive to short, frequent trips.

The CVB plans to refocus a portion of its marketing efforts on regional areas throughout the state and in neighboring states — those that take four hours or more to get here.

The marketing and public relations team at the CVB see these regional drive markets as great opportunities to lure visitors who will spend more time in Galveston. Longer stays usually translate into spending more time getting to know Galveston, its history and charm.

“We are confident that with all Galveston has to offer — beaches, history and great events — that we can become a Texas treasure, and, ultimately, a national treasure,” said Kelly de Schaun, park board executive director.

Park board meetings are open to the public and the public may address the board of trustees during the meetings. Park board meetings are typically held on the fourth Tuesdays of the month at 1:30 p.m. at 601 Tremont St. If you are interested in seeing a park board issue discussed in this column, or if you have any questions, please send them my way. I can be reached at

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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