A key mission of the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau is to advocate for legislation at the local, state and federal level that helps serve the tourism industry.

One of the ways the organization aims to achieve this goal is to work with the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association (THLA).

THLA is the largest state hotel association in the nation and its mission is to advocate for legislation, regulations, resources and a business climate that will promote a strong, vibrant, and growing lodging and tourism industry within Texas.

Scott Joslove, president and CEO of THLA, recently spoke at a Galveston Hotel & Lodging Association luncheon. He briefed the group about the recent Texas legislative session and the organization’s accomplishments.

THLA supported increased state funding for promotion of Texas as a tourism destination. In 2017, the Legislature allocated only $35 million to spend on tourism promotion for the following two-year period. However, THLA was successful in working with the Legislature to increase this state allocation for tourism promotion to $55 million per year. These increased resources mean the Governor’s Tourism Office can increase its efforts to promote Texas as a travel destination in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

THLA representatives also focused on passing an omnibus bill allowing any Texas city to establish a Tourism Public Improvement Districts (TIPD) if they choose. A TPID is a mechanism for hotels in a city to generate funding that can be used for sales initiatives and promotion and marketing of the area hotel and tourism industry.

A TPID is controlled by a board of directors, which is composed of local hoteliers whose hotels participate in a fee assessment. The funding for tourism districts is from a Tourism PID fee that’s charged on each room night folio. In other words, the charge is accomplished through a pass-through fee to the guest, without an out of pocket cost to the hotel.

Once again, THLA fought to allow cities to maintain local control of short-term rental regulations and, once again, the organization was successful. Joslove pointed out the stark difference in a place like Galveston and Austin when it comes to the sheer number of short-term rental transactions (Austin has an estimated 250,000 per year, mostly in residential neighborhoods). He explained that having one set of regulations for short-term rentals is not the best way to serve individual towns and cities.

THLA will continue to work with the Texas Travel Industry Association to promote a uniform school start date of the fourth Monday in August. Currently, school districts can establish their own start dates if they apply to be a district of innovation, which over two-thirds of Texas school districts have done. The uniform start date promotes a full summer tourism season and the attendant economic benefits of such business activity.

Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd St.

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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