Marriott Marquis Houston’s lazy river
Boosted by hosting Super Bowl LI and several other factors, Houston welcomed 20.5 million visitors during 2016. The city’s 17.3 million domestic travelers and 3.2 million international visitors helped support 140,000 jobs and contributed $16.5 billion to the local economy.
In 2015, Visit Houston announced an ambitious initiative to boost tourism to the region. One of the main goals of the project was to increase visitation from 14.8 million in 2014 to 20 million by the end of 2018. In an impressive show of excellence, Visit Houston managed to exceed that goal two years ahead of schedule. The city has also become a bigger draw for groups—over the last two years, annual room nights booked for future conventions have grown 34 percent to 765,401.
“The world is waking up to a new Houston. Over the past several years groups in the city have been quietly investing billions of dollars to improve our product offering, enabling us to compete globally as a tourist destination,” said Mike Waterman, president of Visit Houston. “If you have not been to Houston in the last 24 months and experienced Houston 2.0 you need to pay us a visit!”
From exciting new developments to a rising foodie scene, there are several factors driving Houston’s success.
Of course, the Super Bowl helped boost the region’s visitation. Prior to game day, 140,000 out-of-towners were expected to visit the city for the big game. However, the Super Bowl did more than increase Houston’s short-term appeal.
The event also helped accelerate the city’s development. Several state-of-the-art hotels, venues and attractions were scheduled to open just in time for the game. Marriott Marquis Houston, with its Instagram-worthy Texas-shaped lazy river, is one notable new property. Avenida Houston, the city’s newest dining, entertainment and arts district, is another can’t-miss attraction.
Houston is also getting increased exposure on the national stage. Last year, TripAdvisor ranked the city No. 6 in its list of trending destinations to book in 2017. U.S. News & World Report also ranked Houston No. 7 on a list of top foodie destinations.