When the city’s first conventions and visitors’ bureau administrator arrived in January 2017, he laid out a plan under which Galveston County’s biggest community would court more sports tourism and pursue people headed for Galveston and Houston, but looking for a cheaper place to stay.
About two years later, some aspects of the plan are well underway, while much remains to be done on others, said Bryan Roller, the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau administrator.
“When I first started, you get to building the foundation a little bit,” Roller said. “But then I took over as the director of communication for 10 months, until someone came on board. Now it’s freed me up to put more things in place.”
The things in place so far are a succession of tournaments and events that were planned for League City in March, Roller said.
“We are making strides,” he said. “We hosted the first of four sporting events, the Thornton Gymnastics Invitational that had 200 competitors and an estimated 700 parents come in for the weekend. That event went really well.”
Sports tourism is any travel where people are either observing or participating in sporting events and, in recent years, has become a target for cities across the state and country, including Galveston and League City.
That initial gymnastics competition, combined with a second, bigger one in a few weeks, are some early evidence that marketing has gone well, Roller said.
“That will have quite a few more competitors,” Roller said.
Then, in April, the city will host a basketball tournament at Clear Creek Independent School District’s facilities and a football game in June, Roller said.
But sports aren’t the only target market city officials are courting, Roller said.
“We have also put together a plan to court the cruise market,” Roller said. “That’s really expanding for the city of Galveston and Galveston County. A lot of people are coming in early and choosing to stay in League City and the northern parts of the county.
“We are working to get more businesses up here that cater to that.”
So far, it’s been somewhat complicated tracking how successful the city has been in that venture because officials can’t track hotel occupancy rates on a month-to-month basis, Roller said.
“Right now, we don’t qualify to pull a report each month because one hotel in town has more than 50 percent of the total rooms for the night. It throws off our reports.”
But more hotels are set to open in coming months and then the city will be able to forecast and project whether people are responding to the work, Roller said.
Roller hopes one day to have a system in place that works similarly to Galveston’s visitors bureau, he said.
“I see us being one or two years away from a full-fledged, working CVB that touches on all the areas we need to,” Roller said. “That’s a rough estimate.”