Arts & Culture

Houston’s First Tourism Summit: How Can We Attract More Leisure Tourism To The City?

Hundreds turned out to the George R. Brown Convention Center for Houston’s first tourism summit. The goal? How to get more “heads in beds” in the city — and how arts and culture organizations can benefit.

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The Greater Houston Convention and Visitor's Bureau's Jorge Franz says he's pleased with the turnout of the city's first tourism summit, receiving about 700 RSVPs for the event. Not bad for a first run.

"Essentially, it's an opportunity for the entire Houston hospitality industry to come together and network," Franz says. "And more importantly, to learn about how they can sell their products outside of the city of Houston to potential visitors."

He adds that for years, Houston has been regarded as a business travel destination. Last year, the city welcomed about 14.8 million visitors, which is far behind Chicago at 47 million. Even Austin and Dallas each had 26 million. One of the most important ways to boost our number is by enhancing leisure tourism. Houston Arts Alliance's Jonathon Glus says that has a direct impact on the arts and culture scene.

"Heads in beds means more public funding for the arts here," Glus says, adding that it also means more people in the doors of the city's mission-driven arts organizations.

By "heads in beds," he’s referring to the revenue generated by the Hotel Occupancy Tax, which plays a significant role in funding for non-profit arts organizations.

Subjects at the summit included how regions brand themselves as tourist destinations and how to attract out-of-towners during non-peak periods.

Picture of crowd from tourism summit
Houston’s inaugural tourism summit drew hundreds to the George R. Brown Convention Center

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