Festivals and sports events during off-peak weekends drew thousands of visitors to the island and millions of dollars to the local economy, officials said.
The Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau track numbers for different events it hosts. Officials there have been particularly interested in tourism performance during shoulder seasons — tourism lingo for the travel period between peak and off-peak seasons.
Tourism reports for the inaugural Third Coast Music Festival and the returning Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas showed thousands of visitors had spent millions in the island’s economy.
The music festival running April 26-29 featured about 40 bands playing at different venues downtown and on the seawall.
During the festival, island hotel occupancy increased 6.6 percent over the same weekend in 2017, said Bryan Kunz, sports and events manager at the convention bureau. The average daily rate had increased 4.2 percent and hotel revenue had increased 11.3 percent compared to 2017, Kunz said. The figures come from a weekly Smith Travel Research report, he said.
Some officials had estimated about 1,000 people attended the festival.
The triathlon — a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run — was held April 8. Kunz estimated the event had drawn about 7,300 visitors, including 4,815 overnight visitors.
In business sales, the event had netted about $2.39 million for the island’s economy, which includes lodging, food and drink, recreation and other types of spending, according to the report. More than 67 percent of the attendees came from places more than 75 miles outside of Galveston, Kunz said.
Tourism officials have tried to attract more events during the off season.
For instance, the park board offered seed money, on a performance-based contract, to assist with start-up costs, and the convention center promoted the festival in its marketing, public relations and social media plans, Kunz said. The value of that marketing was estimated at about $124,000, he said.
“The vision is to grow the event into a major tourism draw during a shoulder season time period,” Kunz said.
Tourism officials also have tried to attract tourists from farther distances because those visitors typically stay longer and spend more.
Numbers for the Tall Ships Festival, which sailed into Galveston April 5, were still being determined, a Park Board of Trustees spokeswoman said. The island hosted the Tall Ships Challenge April 5-9, a three-port festival series that launched its first Gulf of Mexico tour.
The Galveston Historical Foundation, the organizer of the event in partnership with Tall Ships America, had estimated more than 60,000 people would attend the four-day festival.