Houston Strong

What Did Houston Tourism Look Like in 2018?

Comicpalooza alone brought in over 50,000 attendees last year.

By Gwendolyn Knapp May 3, 2019

Downtown Houston on a beautiful day.

From food halls to Texas-shaped pools to world-class sports teams and conventions, the world finally seems aware that Houston is, in fact, a travel-worth destination. And, if you’re wondering if more people are visiting our city than ever, the answer is yes.

An estimated 22.3 million people visited Houston in 2018, according to the Houston First, and that's up from a record 22 million visitors in 2017 and about 20 million in 2016. 

While this growth is a good sign we’ll be seeing a benchmark 25 million visitors by 2020, here are some more takeaways Houston First has found about our tourism numbers in 2018:

  • The number of booked meetings and conventions rose from 429 in 2017 to 498 in 2018.
  • About 19 million of our visitors in 2018 reside in the U.S., a 10 percent increase from what was reported for 2017.  
  • Of those 19 million, about 75 percent stayed overnight and 25 percent came for day trips.  
  • Roughly 72 percent of domestic visitors came to Houston for leisure activities, 18 percent came on business, and 10 percent came for other reasons.
  • Millennials continue to comprise most of Houston’s domestic visitors, a trend reported in both 2017 and 2018 by an Omnibus study conducted by Omnitrak.
  • Meanwhile, the 3.28 million international visits to Houston in 2018 is actually a 6.3 percent decrease from 2017—likely due to foreign policies and a strong dollar—and it's expected to decline again in 2019.  
  • One truly big draw for Houston was Comicpalooza, which brought in a record 50,778 attendees from 47 states and 18 countries in 2018 with an economic impact of more than $20 million. 
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