Hotel revenues from the months of June and July are on pace to surpass those of the same period last summer, driven in part by a busy Fourth of July weekend, Galveston Park Board of Trustees officials said.
A successful Fourth of July holiday tends to indicate a good outlook for the remainder of the summer season, said Kelly de Schaun, executive director for the park board, which oversees many tourism-related aspects in the city.
“The holiday weekends are important for us,” de Schaun said. “They’re kind of gauges for the rest of the summer.”
Hotel revenues from June and July to date show an apparent increase in tourist activity this summer. Tourism officials often use hotel revenues to gauge how many visitors come to the island, and on holidays, city officials typically count the number of cars that pass through certain areas on the island.
Hotel revenue for June 2017 is up 7.7 percent from that month last year, park board spokeswoman Mary Beth Bassett said. Hotel revenue in June 2017 was $17.4 million, up from $16.1 million in June 2016, she said.
July 2017 is also on pace to surpass July 2016 hotel revenues by 24 percent, Bassett said.
That increase is partly because of a busy Fourth of July weekend, de Schaun said.
The hotel revenues don’t include vacation rentals or bed-and-breakfast operations, which would drive the numbers much higher, Bassett said. Short-term rentals make up more than a quarter of the total number of hotel rooms rented on the island, local tourism officials said.
The Fourth of July will be a huge boon to tourism this month, de Schaun said. Over the five-day span, hotel revenue increased by 20 percent over the same period last year, according to park board data. The number of people who came to the Galveston Island Visitors Center more than doubled to about 1,100, data show.
City officials also estimate that 2.73 million people were on the island over the five-day period, based on traffic counts.
So far, summer 2017 has definitely seemed more lucrative than last summer, said Steve Cunningham, president of the Galveston Hotel & Lodging Association.
“2016 was a little soft, and I’m seeing it back up slightly,” Cunningham said.
Rain also hasn’t stopped more tourists from traveling to the island as it had in the past, City Manager Brian Maxwell said.
Part of that could be because the city this summer brought in tourist-aimed buses that look like trolleys, and the park board finished a $19.5 million beach nourishment project in the spring, Maxwell said.
“Just about every weekend we’ve had some threat of rain,” Maxwell said. “It’s not slowing anything. Our traffic counts show it, our trolley counts show it. We’re giving more options to our visitors.”
Efforts to better market the island to tourists have also contributed to the apparent increase in tourism this summer, de Schaun said.
“There’s a perception of Galveston that’s the Galveston of 20 years ago, and that’s not the Galveston of today,” de Schaun said. “We are pushing on the marketing harder than we’ve ever pushed before.”