I will venture to say that when organizations put together their crisis communications plans, they hope that they won’t have to use them. Now that the Hurricane Harvey crisis is largely behind us here in Galveston, I must say, I’m glad the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau had a plan in place.
Crisis communications plans outline the actions an organization will take in the hours before, during and after a crisis. For the CVB, a key part of the plan is communicating with the city’s emergency response team, its tourism partners and the media.
The CVB put together its most recent crisis communications plan last fall. Together, staff determined crisis situations that could negatively affect tourism in Galveston and along the wider Gulf Coast region. These scenarios ranged from terrorist acts to oil spills to hurricanes in the Gulf.
And, as we all know, Hurricane Harvey materialized. As the storm blew through, staff kept in close communication with one another and monitored media reports.
As soon as it became clear that Galveston’s major tourism assets were spared the brunt of the storm, CVB staff gathered information from local businesses, attractions, the Port of Galveston and the city of Galveston about the state of the city. The CVB worked with galveston.com to obtain drone and video footage of wide, clear beaches and dry downtown streets to provide to the media and to place on social media channels the day after the storm passed.
Being timely was effective in getting the initial word out that Galveston tourism fared well. This led to stories in multiple national and regional outlets that let the public know that Galveston tourism was open for business.
Now that Galveston is officially out of crisis mode, the CVB is leading a task force consisting of business leaders and tourism partners to formulate a long-term plan for messaging and tourism promotion post-Harvey.
The CVB understands we still have a lot of work ahead to combat the perception that the entire region has suffered due to the storm, but we are up for the challenge mainly because we know how much tourism means to this community. The CVB is, and always has been, committed to sustaining and growing the tourism industry in Galveston, which generated more than $1 billion in economic impact to the island last year and sustains one-third of all jobs here.
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