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Woodlands tourism board renews partnership with Visit Houston; deal promotes township to wider audience

January 25, 2019

The long-held believe that there is nothing to do in Houston has changed in recent years thanks to partnerships between tourism bureaus in Houston and surrouding communities, including The Woodlands.

In an effort to offer tourists a more complete tourist experience in Houston, officials with Visit Houston introduced in 2015 the “Visit Houston & Beyond” campaign. The campaign was an effort encompassing 14 partner cities — including all the major suburbs and destinations farther afield like Brazosport, Beaumont and Port Arthur — to highlight the unique places and events found in each community in the region.

Thanks to a partnership with Visit Houston that was renewed at the January meeting of the Visit The Woodlands Board of Directors, The Woodlands — and its plethora of luxury dining and hotels — will continue to be marketed as an essential part of the entire greater Houston package as part of the “Visit Houston & Beyond” campaign.

“In order for them to complete the historical story of Texas, they need Spindletop, they need the San Jacinto Monument, they need the Tomball train,” said Elizabeth Eddins, the executive director of Visit The Woodlands. “They need all those parts of it to tell the complete story.”

Almost 22 million people visited Houston in 2017 — a figure keeping well in line with Mayor Sylvester Turner’s goal of 25 million visitors annually by 2020, said Jorge Franz, VisitHouston’s senior vice president of tourism. Tourism as an industry ranks 10th in contributing to Houston’s gross domestic product and tourists brought in more than $1 billion in local and state tax revenue in 2017.

All of that translates to big bucks for The Woodlands Township.

According to Visit The Woodlands’ fourth quarter hotel occupancy tax report, visitors staying in the township’s 14 hotels brought in almost $9 million in tax revenue alone in 2018, a 3.2 percent increase year over year from 2017, thanks, in part, to the township’s burgeoning entertainment, dining and retail shopping scenes.

“The Woodlands has become an amazing place for shopping and live concerts,” Franz said.

Franz said each partner city sees its own target demographic, and in turn, each demographic is looking for something different. Of the top five countries whose citizens visit Houston, The Woodlands — by a large margin — sees most visitors come from Mexico, looking to shop at the upscale Market Street or The Woodlands Mall. The average tourist shopper spends $1,200 per person per trip, Franz added.

To facilitate day trips out to the partner cities, officials with Visit Houston & Beyond are experimenting with an in-house purchasing portal, where visitors and residents can purchase tickets to local attractions.

“It’s more about providing the consumer with more experiences,” Franz said.

Presenting The Woodlands as a luxury getaway destination or Galveston as a beach town close to home, for example, all serve to bring more people in to experience what Houston as a whole has to offer, Franz said. To fight the outdated perception of a cold, corporate concrete jungle, Visit Houston highlights the city’s culinary, cultural and sports legacies.

“We no longer live in that city,” Franz said. “There’s plenty to do here.”

mrincon@chron.com

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