HOUSTON (August 27, 2014) - Visitors to the Houston region spent more than $16 billion in 2013, up from $15.5 billion the year before, according to the latest figures from the Texas Office of Economic Development and Tourism.

The travel and tourism industry also supported more than 128,000 jobs in 2013, a 4.5 percent increase over 2012, the report shows.

The data, compiled by research firm Dean Runyan & Associates for the state, covers the 10-county Houston region. At $16.2 billion in spending, the Houston metro area experienced the largest financial impact of travel in Texas.

Houston MSA (10 counties) $16.2 billion
Dallas MSA (8 counties) $11.7 billion
San Antonio MSA (eight counties) $8 billion
Fort Worth MSA (5 counties) $7.5 billion
Austin MSA (5 counties) $6.3 billion

Visitors spent $2.4 billion on accommodations in Houston last year, up 14% from 2012, the report shows. Restaurant and food services spending climbed 8% to just under $2.6 billion. Local transportation and gasoline stayed about even at $3.5 billion. Arts, entertainment and recreational spending rose 3.5% to $1.4 billion. And retail sales climbed 3% to $1.7 billion.

"The accolades for Houston keep rolling in and a growing number of people today see our city as a destination," says Sonia Garza-Monarchi, board chair of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. "With tremendous infrastructure investment coming to key areas of the city in the next few years ahead of the 2017 Super Bowl, I'm confident that more and more people will travel to Houston to discover what all the buzz is about and, of course, spend their money."

Another report from the Economic Development and Tourism Department on hotel performance shows health in that sector for Houston as well. Occupancy in the Houston metro area rose to 69 percent in 2013, up nearly 2 percent from 2012. Moreover, revenue-per-available-room, a key metric for the hotel sector, rose to $71.81 in 2013, up 7 percent from 2012.

"The Greater Houston area lodging industry is experiencing a great rebound from the levels of 2008-2009," says Stephanie Haynes, president of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston." The economic development generated by oil and gas, along with growth in other sectors such as medicine, has prompted an increase in individual business travel, solidifying the base occupancy for our hotels. With the addition of convention and meetings markets, Houston and the surround areas will continue to increase in 2014 on the platform already developed."

Nearly 52 million passengers traveled through Houston's two commercial airports last year, a year-over-year increase of 1.2 percent, data from the Houston Airport System shows. International traffic increased 2.5 percent to nearly 9 million passengers, a record for the city, as new service launched between cities such as Beijing, Seoul and Munich. In fact, Houston saw a dramatic 22% increase in international visitation last year, the largest increase in the country, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department.

Yet another benchmark for Houston travel, the VisitHouston.com network of websites, logged 3.6 million visitors in 2013, up 45% from the year prior. In 2014, the network of seven sites is on target to log 5 million visits.

While travel spending in Houston grows, the destination remains largely affordable for visitors.

 

• The average cost of a meal in Houston is $35.57, nearly $5 less than the national average of $40.53, according to Zagat.
• The average room rate in Houston was $101.40 in 2013, considerably less than the $144.56 national average, according to data from PKF Consulting.
• The Houston CityPASS program gives visitors access to five of the city's top attractions at nearly half the cost. Out of the 11 cities included in the CityPASS program, Houston's pass is the cheapest at $49 for adults and $39 for kids.

                                                               ###

Contact:

A.J. Mistretta
Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
713-437-5206
amistretta@visithouston.com

Leah Fillion
Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
713-437-5275
lfillion@visithouston.com