When Galveston, a town of 50,000, welcomes more than 7 million visitors each year, there are plenty of impacts to the community. And many of those impacts are positive for island residents.

The community is invited to learn about those positive impacts and see how the island’s organizations come together to ensure beach safety, cleanliness and marine life protection at a Tourism Pays event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Stewart Beach.

Throughout the event, attendees can learn about the economic impacts of tourism on the island with information from the most recent report. The report showed that in 2018, tourism sustained nearly a third of all jobs on the island and saved homeowners more than $4,000 in taxes. Thanks to a robust tourism industry, $49.6 million in local tax revenue went to the city of Galveston’s General Fund.

The event will begin with first responders from across the county banding together for their annual training exercise that helps them prepare for the upcoming summer season. Attendees will be able to view these first responders in action as they re-enact a realistic training exercise on the beach.

Following the exercise, Galveston Island Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis will present the inaugural Leroy Columbo Lifesaving Award. The award will be presented to a partner or individual who best represents the legacy of the legendary former Galveston lifeguard. Columbo was an accomplished swimmer and saved more than 1,000 lives during his career despite being born with meningitis and losing his hearing as a young child.

The family friendly event also will give the local community an up-close look at some of the high-end equipment used to maintain beaches and protect human and marine life. On display will be the beach patrol’s new multi-purpose flood-response vehicle, Coastal Zone Management’s surf rakes and refuse trucks, seawall parking segways, a rescue truck used to transport injured marine mammals, plus firetrucks and ambulances.

“The idea of the Tourism Pays event is to bring Galveston residents together to better understand the Park Board’s role in our community when it comes to managing the tourism industry,” Park Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said. “We’re pleased to be able to showcase the hard work our teams perform to make the island a better place for visitors and residents alike.”

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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