The Port of Galveston generated more than $43.5 million in revenue last year, setting a record just a year after setting its previous high, the port announced on Tuesday.
The $43.5 million in operating revenue in fiscal year 2018 is a 15.2 percent increase compared with 2017, the port said. The port finalized its 2018 finances in a certified annual financial report that was completed and approved in June.
In 2018, the port reported $37.8 million in operating revenues. It’s the seventh year in a row the port has reported a year-to-year revenue increase.
Port Director Rodger Rees attributed the rise in revenues to increases in the amount of cargo and cruises coming and going from the island port.
The port moved 4.1 million tons of cargo in 2018 and there were 1.97 million passenger movements, a figure that counts passengers moving on and off cruise ships, the port said.
Rees, who began working as director of the port in January 2018, credited some of the increases to a boost in morale and culture changes among staff since he got there.
“When I first came here, there was a feeling that everybody couldn’t express themselves and when I got here we opened that wide up,” Rees said.
He specifically pointed to the 92 percent increase the port’s revenues from lay dockage business, where ships destined for other ports stop temporarily in Galveston for supplies, repairs or refueling, as being a result of port staff suggestions.
While it is a public port, the Port of Galveston relies on its own revenues, not local taxes, to pay for its operations.
Cruise ships operating out of the port generated the highest amount of revenue at the port, accounting for about 43 percent, or $18.7 million of the port’s total operating revenue.
Cargo ships make up 27 percent of the port’s revenue, about $11.7 million, and paid cruise-ship parking charges generate about 17 percent of revenues, or about $7.4 million.
The port also brings in more than it spends, according to the financial report. The port’s operating expenses in 2018 were about $35.5 million. The net income can be used to leverage funding for major infrastructure projects in the future, Rees said.
Rees was optimistic the port would report even higher revenues in the next fiscal year, which ends in December, he said. In 2019, 30 new cruises were scheduled to depart from the port, and there’s still potential for the port grain business to rebound from the effect of tariffs imposed by China, he said.
“In my mind, we’re on track to even do better this year,” Rees said.