The holiday season is such a special time on the island. It seems like every year, there’s something new added to the lineup of wonderful events that make for lasting memories here.

In order to promote all of the great holiday events on the island, the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau created a Winter Wonder Island marketing campaign in 2012. The goal of the annual campaign was to wrap individual attractions and events into one big marketing package in order to drive business to the island during what would normally be a slow time.

The numbers speak for themselves. Hotel revenue has risen 79 percent over the last five years during the eight weeks of Winter Wonder Island compared to the same period during 2011. And hotel occupancy during that time has increased more than 30 percent even with the addition of new hotel rooms to the inventory.

Moody Gardens’ annual Festival of Lights and Ice Land exhibits serve as anchors to the campaign since each is open daily from mid-November through early January. Other holiday events included are Dickens on The Strand, the Hotel Galvez’s Christmas tree lighting, holiday programs at The Grand 1894 Opera House, Holiday with the Cranes, Santa sightings and, new this year, Lanterns and Lights in the Park at Saengerfest Park downtown among many others.

Since the creation of Winter Wonder Island, some island entities have increased their holiday offerings based on increased visitation to Galveston. The Grand 1894 Opera House had limited offerings during the holiday season, but bumped it up to coincide with the campaign and has expanded holiday programs every year since its inception.

The Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council has expanded its Holiday with the Cranes event aimed at nature enthusiasts. The event coincides with the holidays and the arrival of these large, majestic birds to the island during their winter migration.

“Holiday with the Cranes has grown from a Saturday morning breakfast event to a full weekend of indoor and outdoor nature activities,” Julie Ann Brown, GINTC executive director, said. “GINTC is excited to be a part of the Winter Wonder Island campaign. We are happy to add nature activities to the slate of wonderful winter things to do while visiting Galveston Island.”

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 Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at Park Board Plaza, 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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