Summer may have ended with a thud, but it started with a bang — and stayed that way until Hurricane Harvey visited our area. Now that the numbers are in, it’s clear to see that Galveston enjoyed a successful summer of tourism.

Each week, the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau receives a report that gives the organization an indication of the overall tourism picture on the island. The reports — provided by Smith Travel Research — contain information about hotel occupancy, average daily rates and hotel/lodging revenues. From May through August, these reports show that the hotel and lodging venues on the island fared better than last summer in all of those areas.

During those four months of summer, the average hotel occupancy rate on the island was 71.8 percent up from 70.6 percent in 2016. The average daily rate during the same time period increased 2.6 percent to $151.14, up from $147.24 in 2016. As for hotel revenues, they increased 9 percent from May through August from $60,745,420 in 2016 to $66,196,539 in 2017.

The same good news holds true for the island’s park board-managed beach parks, Stewart Beach and East Beach. Revenues for East Beach increased 30 percent from $308,237 to $400,706 over 2016 and Stewart Beach fared similarly with a 32 percent increase from $537,154 to $709,399.

“This increase in revenues will allow the park board to make improvements to the beach parks’ facilities and will go toward future beach nourishment projects,” said Kelly de Schaun, park board executive director.

Good weather was undoubtedly a factor in the uptick. The summer of 2016 was marked with a lot of rain in the area keeping many would-be beachgoers away. Another factor that played a role in the beach parks’ success was special events and sporting programming at the beach parks.

The CVB brought a Family Beach Challenge to East Beach every month throughout the summer. And, they brought in sandcastle building experts for free lessons at Stewart Beach. Other special events included a country music concert and food truck events. New sporting events included two youth soccer tournaments, a Beach Ultimate tournament and a Sports Fest at East Beach.

“In the last several years, the park board’s CVB team has devised new and innovative ways to promote the island to otherwise untapped markets,” de Schaun said. “We plan to build on the successes of the summer season and work to bring in new events and to keep this momentum going.”

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 fourth Tuesday 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 mbassett@galvestonparkboard.org.

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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