The Gulf Coast is catering to international visitors this holiday season Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 04: International travelers wait in line to speak with a CBP officer as they arrive at Miami International Airport on March 4, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade Aviation Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unveiled a new mobile app for expedited passport and customs screening. The app for iOS and Android devices allows U.S. citizens and some Canadian citizens to enter and submit their passport and customs declaration information using their smartphone or tablet and to help avoid the long waits in the exit lanes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Christmas has been in effect since the day after Halloween, and with it has come a boost in retail sales and international tourist travel to big cities like Houston.

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According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, Galveston is also a popular spot for holiday festivities and tourist attractions. Xinhua describes it as an interesting port town with “pristine beaches, Victorian-era homes and a festive downtown shopping district.”

Xinhua reports that 6.5 million people in total visited Galveston in 2016 and spent $780 million. In 2015, Texas was host to 1.79 million international visitors, excluding Canada and Mexico, and those visitors put $1.8 billion of their money into the state economy.

Galveston is ramping up its tourism efforts as international traffic continues to grow, with plans to add new cruise ships and destinations to its roster.

“More and more people are discovering that Galveston is much more than a beach destination, from our many unique attractions and historic sites to our vibrant culinary, arts and entertainment scenes.” Kelly de Schaun, executive director of Galveston’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, told Xinhua.

Christmas events like Dickens on the Strand hope to attract holiday revelers, and in Houston, Chinese tourists are reportedly among the Galleria’s biggest customers.

Tourism made up 2.7 percent of the United States’ GDP in 2016, with the National Trade and Tourism Office listing Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and the U.K. listed as the top five origins of international tourists of the U.S. According to a report by the NTTO, the U.S. is the world leader in tourism cash, with 16.8 percent of worldwide travel spending.


According to the most recent report by the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office, 4.66 percent of all international visitors to the U.S. visited the Lone Star State, and tourism has been steadily climbing overall for the past few years.


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