As thousands of visitors flock to Galveston this Memorial Day weekend, the island’s tourism industry will celebrate the kickoff of what is expected to be a successful summer vacation season.
Emergence from the pandemic and the associated resurgence of the desire for travel, plus family-friendly attractions, upgraded beach park amenities and a growing interest in Galveston’s tourism offerings, are just a few reasons Visit Galveston is reporting a positive outlook for 2022.
2022 Galveston Tourism Outlook
The travel and hospitality industries are expected to continue their upward post-pandemic trend. After a successful spring break holiday, Galveston plans to greet more than 500,000 visitors to the island during Memorial Day weekend. According to a recently released economic impact report, hotel occupancy tax collections set records during the 2021-2022 fiscal year. This is due in part to the increased interest in vacation rental units on the island which now number more than 3,500. Visitors to Galveston last year contributed more than $1.2 billion in economic impact and supported more than 10,000 jobs, representing approximately one third of all jobs here.
Galveston Beach Parks Welcome Visitors with Amenities and Activities
Galveston is home to several beach parks along the island’s 32-mile coastline – East Beach, Stewart Beach, Seawall Urban Park and Dellanera R.V. Park. These parks offer guests amenities that include restrooms, showers, beach chair rentals, volleyball courts, snack bars and concessions. A significant improvement at family-friendly Stewart Beach includes a $1.4 million flood mitigation initiative aimed at improving parking in the area. Additionally, new mobile amenities -- showers, changing rooms, and bathrooms -- will be placed at the beach park. At Dellanera R.V. Park on Galveston’s west end, beachgoers can take advantage of a remodeled pavilion and decks with expansive Gulf views. For details on the beach parks, head to www.visitgalveston.com.
Beach safety is of utmost importance to Galveston’s Beach Patrol. Visitors are urged to learn about and obey warning flags. Information can be found here: www.galvestonislandbeachpatrol.com.
Galveston Naval Museum to Host Memorial Day Event
The Galveston Naval Museum will host a Memorial Day Ceremony featuring Captain Jason E. Smith, Sector Commander, United States Coast Guard, Sector Houston-Galveston as the keynote speaker. The event will take place May 30 at 11 a.m. at Seawolf Park, 100 Seawolf Parkway. Those attending may park for free from 9-11 a.m.
Movies on the Beach Among Free Beach Park Activities in Galveston
Pull up a chair or a blanket to enjoy movies on the beach! New this season, Visit Galveston will screen films at its beach parks, rotating among East Beach, Stewart Beach, Dellanera Park and Seawolf Park. The movies are free -- there is a fee to park. The movies are slated to start at dusk. A schedule can be found at www.visitgalveston.com.
Returning to East Beach this season is the Galveston Family Beach Challenge. The Challenge is an obstacle course allowing families to compete at 14 stations including limbo, giant Jenga, beach soccer, sack races and more. Winners stand to receive valuable gift certificates. The competitions take place June 12 and July 10 and begin at 11 a.m. Registration can be found at www.galvestonchallenge.com.
Budding beach architects can take sandcastle lessons from professionals on Saturdays from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend at East Beach. Some materials are provided, but students are encouraged to bring their own equipment. Lessons take place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. along the water near the pavilion. No registration is required.
Experience the New Ship to Shore Exhibit
Galveston’s Historic Seaport recently received a $2.5 million upgrade that includes a new interactive attraction, Ship to Shore. It chronicles Galveston’s history as the second largest immigration port in the United States and tells the story of seaborne commerce in Texas. Ship To Shore allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of early immigrants who traveled to Galveston in the 1880s. The new attraction provides an interactive experience based on documented personal stories of those who landed in Galveston using a digital membership card that personalizes the journey to each visitor.
New Exhibits Debut at Moody Gardens’ Rainforest Pyramid
A new $1.7 million enhancement at Moody Gardens’ Rainforest Pyramid is poised to greet summer visitors. Exciting changes include a new European bee colony and an elaborate leafcutter ant exhibit. They are set among tropical plants and free-roaming birds and animals that reside here. Visitors will be fully immersed as they trek through the rainforest’s canopy to the regions of Asia, Africa and the Americas
Faster Entry, New Landscaping Among Enhanced Attractions at Schlitterbahn Waterpark
Guests at Schlitterbahn Galveston Waterpark will notice many changes – including a faster way to the fun! Thanks to a new Fast Lane product and a front gate expansion that includes four additional entry points, thrill seekers can enjoy slides and coasters without spending too much time in line. The children’s water playgrounds and many of the park’s attractions have been upgraded and $100,000 has been invested in landscaping. Guests can also expect to relax on new furnishings, see remodeled restrooms and dine at overhauled food outlets. Guests are still welcome to bring their own coolers.
Galveston Island State Park to Open After Years Long Improvements
The 2,000-acre Galveston Island State Park on the island’s west end spans the beach and the bay. For the last three years, the beachside portion has been closed and has undergone a $10 million renovation project. This summer, visitors to the park will see new multi-use campsites with water and electrical hookups, a new hiking trail, a beach-accessible boardwalk, shelters for group activities, gear rentals, a new headquarters, plus a remodeled Nature Center on the bay. The park offers opportunities for guests to fish, camp, hike and birdwatch.
For more information on Galveston tourism, go to www.visitgalveston.com.