This past week, the island played host to a tourism town hall meeting with state Sen. Larry Taylor and Rep. Wayne Faircloth.

The event, held at The San Luis Resort on Wednesday, brought local travel industry decision-makers together to participate in a constructive dialogue with colleagues, state industry leaders and legislators to discuss ways to address critical issues facing the local and state travel industries.

These issues ranged from economic challenges — such as property tax rates for small businesses — to public policy solutions that will help the Galveston area and the rest of the state become more competitive and prosperous visitor destinations.

The event was organized by the Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) with support from the Galveston Hotel & Lodging Association. The town hall was conducted with a panel that included representatives from TTIA, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Texas Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses in addition to Sen. Taylor and Rep. Faircloth.

Major issues discussed included the need for restored funding to Texas Tourism, which is the tourism marketing arm for the state; the desire to keep a later public school year start date; the need to keep hotel occupancy tax revenues allocated for their intended purpose of funding tourism marketing; and ways to increase and develop the tourism industry workforce.

Rep. Faircloth said that finding public policy solutions for these issues is an essential part of ensuring a thriving tourism industry.

“(We are) working with members to highlight the importance of the tourism industry in Texas and why cutting programs, like the governor’s Economic Development & Tourism program, will have a negative impact on our economy,” Faircloth said.

Park board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun served as the moderator for the event.

“The importance of tourism to Galveston and the rest of the state is without question, and the town hall was a very effective platform to create dialogue about ways to improve our industry with the support of lawmakers and state leaders,” de Schaun said. “The park board was designed to lead the island’s tourism efforts and making sure Galveston is seen and heard at the state and national level is critical to that mission.”

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 23rd 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.

(1) comment

Byron Barksdale

• We need a beach replenished West of 81rst Street to the end of the Seawall. Doing so raises property valuations (more taxes to Galveston County), protects the Seawall, allows beachgoers more room to spread out along the entire Seawall, increases motel occupancy directly resulting in more occupancy taxes to the City, increases likelihood of restaurants West of 61 rst Street. Lack of funding is really not the issue!

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