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I guess this past few years of saying screw you to our dirty fishermen's money is catching up to the city.


Tourism Down In Galveston

Merchants: Lack Of Advertising May Be To Blame

Galveston Island merchants and city officials blame marketing for this year's low tourist turnout.

Billboards in the Houston area are advertising Galveston as "A getaway that is not far away." But apparently this year, tourists seem to be keeping the island city's beaches and shops at bay.
Merchants have said this year's tourist season isn't going as well as it should be.

Corinna Hughes, a longtime manager at the Fantasy Island gift shop on Galveston's Seawall, told her store's new owners that come Memorial Day, business would get so busy, they wouldn't have time to eat. But the large crowds never came. "I've been here 19 years and I've never seen it like this before," Hughes said.

The number of visitors at the beach parks is also down. Vehicle counts for Stewart Beach plummeted by 5,000 in both April and May. At Apffel Park, there were 7,372 fewer cars in April and 8,244 fewer in May, The Galveston County Daily News reported Sunday.

"We noticed a drop particularly on the weekdays in tourism," said Peter Davis, assistant director of the beach patrol. Allen Flores, concessionaire at East Beach and owner of Bettah Beach Productions, said he thinks all Galveston businesses are hurting.

"Some people are saying we are only 10 percent down," he said. "I think everybody is down, and I think everybody is down significantly." Flores blamed the Galveston Park Board of Trustees for not advertising the island enough. The park board oversees the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which helps promote the island as a tourist destination.

"The bottom line is somebody was asleep at the wheel when it came to marketing Galveston for the summer 2004, and I am hoping that this is an eye opener, and they put adequate money toward the 2005 season," he said.

Lou Muller, park board executive director, said he doesn't know what's causing the decline. Some say higher entrance fees at the beaches are keeping crowds away. But the $2 increase went into effect in April 2003 and had little effect on the numbers then. Others say higher gas prices are to blame.

Muller said his organization recently began running radio ads for Galveston's beaches. "I think it's going to be tough," he said. "Hopefully we can gain some ground, but it will be difficult to make up the difference.

"But not everyone is hurting. Paul Schultz, general manager for the Hilton, Holiday Inn and the San Luis hotels, said his properties "are having a great summer.""Our numbers are strong," Schultz said. "We are having a good season."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

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Hmmm Let's see

Free parking and Beaches in Freeport or Bolivor, yeah I know where my money has been going for the beach and relaxation. Why give them more money to help close down the Pass, I'm not about to give them my sales tax.

FN
 

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that's right fishnut. they're just too greedy. i'll keep going to SLP until they close it, then its all HI, Bolivar, Surfside, Freeport and Texas City. they just don't understand that most fishermen are the "regulars." the tourists are just spring break and summer vacations. i fish year round. i'll buy bait and food in Galveston then head down to SLP or one of the piers or over to the N. Jetty. but i have no problem buying frozen large shrimp from supermarkets for $3 or $4 per pound for bait or getting food in Houston or elsewhere. and from Houston, i can take 288 down to Freeport/Surfside and the Follets Island side of SLP. or if going to HI i usually take I-10 anyways. stop for food at Winnie and then bait at Ben's Bait shop.
 

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Im with you Matt

Only money Ive spent in Galveston this year was at the Toll Bridge while going to Sam's Beach. Thats 106 miles from my house and I drive by a lot of Galveston stores and beaches that arent getting my money. Tween #5 and #6 its mo betta anyway.

Zac
 

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Hey Skavatar, don't forget to check out Lynchburg Bait and Tackle at the Highlands exit off I-10 (at San Jac River). They have carried live shrimp in the past. Don't know about this year. I bought it there before and hauled it to Sabine more than once.
 

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And y'all be sure to see Miss Martinez at the Rusty Hook, as well. Texas Beaches could not have a finer friend than her. Oh and a nicer one too...lol Drew
 

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IMO, this article does perhaps point out that Galveston has taken local beachgoers, anglers, etc for granted. If overall tourism is down, but hotel bookings remain strong, that tells the tale of where the decline is coming from. Of course, Mr Schultz's comments could have been tailored to save face for senior management & shareholders. I wonder what their actual numbers look like.

Either way, Galveston can ill-afford to ignore local anglers & beachgoers. I think they (we) will be Galveston's primary source of sustainable income in the long term. As a tourist destination, Galveston faces stiff competition; the likes of which I'm not sure they can measure up to. There's gaming in nearby LA, & then there's places such as La Cantera in the hill country offering packages that include golfing & tickets to Fiesta Texas. Both of these are examples of places that have strong attractions, well-priced packages, & aggressive marketing campaigns. I don't see how Galveston can compete or is even trying to compete with such places. I think tourists will, & perhaps already are, choosing destinations other than Galveston in increasing numbers. If that's the case, & Galveston does not work hard to cater to local beachgoers & anglers, Galveston businesses will be left hurting.
 

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m-keith

You are so correct. The past Mayor of Galveston made a major mistake in a comment made not too long ago. He said, "Fisherman come down to the island with a dirty t-shirt and a $5 dollar bil, and dont change either"

How about this? There are houses on the public beach, illegally in Galveston. People sleep in those houses. But if you pitch a tent, and sleep on the beach, its a $500 fine. You cant have a fire, you cant drink a beer in some areas, you cant swim or fish in some areas, and they think they can get us down there? I wonder what they think people do on the beach? Just sit there?

The bussiness owners blame the City for poor planning and poor marketing. They are right. They cant even put together a beach access plan that meets the Open Beaches Act, let alone plan for turism. As fas as marketing, they spend all their time trying to sell off the public beaches to major developers. They seem to forget us with dirty t-shirts and a $5 bill.

I question the intelligence of the major developer who claims that they will invest 500 million dollars for the west end. Im not alone thinking this will be one of the biggest blunders not only in bussiness, but in the environmet arena.

And guess who will end up footing the bill for this blunder?

Thats right. Us.
 

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Heres a good idea!!! My wife and I go down to Galveston every now and then just to walk around the Strand, when someone in the shops asks if they can help us, I tell no I am not spending my money here because of the beach issue. Then I usually let them know we are stopping in Kemah for lunch or dinner. It gets there attention. My wife yells at me for being rude but I really don't care because I figure they need to know why I will not spend my money in their shop. Just one guy with a few bucks setting up my own little protest.
 

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The last time I looked a Pint of Shrimp is a Min. $6.00 and a Quart for $10.00. Most places it's $8 and $16. I wear polo tees and spend all my money in the Surfside area. I was down there this past weekend. It's make me mad everytime I see the area they are clearing. I'm praying for a big storm, no injuries, but a mess of erosion.
 

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Live Like No One Else.
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I have lived along the Gulf Coast almost my whole life and haven't even been to Galveston in the last 10 or 15 years. I would rather go to Matagorda cause I can drive on the beach and there or miles of beach to fish.
 

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Fish-a-Mon, ask for Black Saltys next time, or better yet, have them delivered to your doorstep in one day. Sure would help things if everyone would switch over to this new bait, that doesn't require dragging our bays to get.

As for Jan's post, citing advertising problems, it would seem to me that the most powerful one of them all, word of mouth, has done what it always has...
 

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My view on Black Salty's

Well Im a firm believer in them. And for anyone who wonders about thier fortitude, well, Ive got a story for you.

Last fall during the flounder run we could not find finger mullet anywhere so we decided to try the Black Salty's as a last resort. We bought them at the bait camp right there on 61st street(cant remember the name) but he loaded us up with a few dozen and some clean fresh water. Well we left there for the yacht basin and the first turn I made The ice chest in the back of my truck somehow turned over and all the bait and water spilled out. I pulled over and thought I had just wasted $30 worth of bait. All I could do was pick em all up and put them back in the empty ice chest. Knowing they would be dead by the time we got there and unloaded I was not happy. Met EZED at the GYB and told him my plight and we took the chest to the fish cleaning station, put tap water in it, added some Bait Saver that Ed had. By this time they were looking a little on the rough side, none were moving in the chest when we put water in it, they had been out of the water for a good 10 minutes. By the time we got the ice chest on the boat and the aerator on they began perking up, by the time we got to our spot they were as frisky as kitty cat full of cat nip. That was at 0500 in the morning, at 5:30 PM we decided to leave and head home. We still had half a dozen in the chest and they were still frisky. We caught 15-20 flounder that day(cant remember exactly) and most were on the Black Salty's. We let the last few go in the water and they sped off. I dont know how long they made it but the took off like a rocket. As far as on the hook we never had one on more than 30 minutes due to the flounder really enjoying them but I know I never took a dead on off due to the saltwater. Ill definitely stay away from the mullet lines this fall, Ive got a nice aquarium at home that will have my bait ready for me when I leave the house.

Z
 

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Black Salty

Thanks Angler.Do you know if any of the Surfside bait camps carry them?I don't fish Galveston.
 

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I can't wait to see what effect the new parking meters along the seawall are going to have on retail businesses. Most people are only willing to spend so much on vacations/getaways/quick day trips to the beach. The more of it the the city extorts in fees and such, the less of it they will be seeing as revenue in the retail businesses on the entire island. "Dear, I would dure like a couple of these cool T-shirts!" "Sorry hon, we had to spend so much on parking that we don't have enough for any extras this trip."...I think there will be more than one conversation like that. I predict that if they think business is down now. They will all be scratchin' their heads when they see the folks staying away in herds.

Danny, your idea is great! I will do that from now on, every time I'm in Galveston...passing through on my way to surfside. ;)
 

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Jack- The citizens of Galveston get to vote on the parking meters, and I'm guessing
they are going to say N-O. It's not a done deal.

Seeing as how the Seawall is a MAJOR tourist draw to the city, they should already
have maintenance and new amenities funds built into the city's budget every year
if ya ask me!

MEGABITE
 

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Jack, My wife pinches me real hard when I let them know, but you should see the looks on their faces. I'm not trying to be rude or hurt somebody but I do not have the time or money to face off with the money men so I figure if I let the business people know, maybe It will do some good or it may not. Just one little voter/taxpayer getting my point across.
 
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