The Bayou City experienced the largest increase in overseas visitors of any U.S. city between 2012 and 2013, according to a report released this week from the Commerce Department.
Roughly 801,000 foreign travelers came to Houston in 2013, up an incredible 22% from 2012. The overseas visitation report from the National Travel and Tourism Office of the Commerce Department excludes travel from Canada and Mexico.
Houston’s 22% increase was followed by Orlando (17%), Honolulu (15%) and Miami (15%). In terms of the whole number of travelers, the 801,000 figure puts Houston at No. 12 on the list of U.S. cities. New York, Miami and Los Angeles lead the list, but Houston comes in ahead of cities such as Philadelphia, 05_IAH_083Atlanta and Dallas.
“There are a number of factors that I believe are contributing to this robust increase,” says Jorge Franz, vice president of International Sales & Tourism for the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are seeing record hotel occupancy numbers in Houston from the international markets due in large part to an increase in energy sector travel. Specifically, this has to do with executives coming to the city to learn about the latest developments in technology like underwater drilling, hydraulic fracturing and, increasingly, alternative energy technology and development.”
International attendance at most conferences and tradeshows, including the Offshore Technology Conference held each spring, has increased to record levels in the last two years, Franz says.
More headway is also being made on the leisure front. “We are promoting Houston more than ever in Mexico, Latin America, Europe and Asia,” Franz says. “The Chinese market is starting to show here in Houston, and, at the same time, airlift is growing exponentially. In the past 18 months alone, new or expanded service has been established between Houston and Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Istanbul and Munich just to name a few.”
Franz says the presence of the world’s largest medical center and the influx of doctors, patients and researchers is yet another factor contributing to the growth in overseas travel.
Overall, the U.S. saw 3 million overseas visitors coming for conferences and trade shows in 2013, a 3% increase from 2012. Leisure travel grew 7% to 21.4 million while business trips increased 6% to 4.9 million.
Click here for a summary from the report.
About the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) is the primary sales and marketing arm of the city of Houston and Harris County. The mission of the GHCVB is to improve the economy of Greater Houston by attracting conventions, tourists and film projects to the area through sales and marketing efforts.