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2019 was a momentous year for Galveston Wharves. Major milestones reached last year set a strong foundation for success in 2020 and beyond.
None of it would be possible without the support of our board, staff, City Council and scores of business partners, including our customers, tenants, the International Longshoremen’s Union, stevedores and pilots.
RECORD REVENUE: By focusing on cutting expenses and growing revenues, Galveston Wharves reached a record $54.6 million in gross revenues. As a self-funding operation with no taxing authority, the port must generate income to reinvest in much-needed waterfront improvements to grow port business, jobs and the local economy.
MASTER PLAN: The board adopted a 20-year Strategic Master Plan to guide port growth. Based on 1 ½ years of research and public input, the comprehensive plan is a business-driven road map to help us identify opportunities and prioritize capital improvement projects. This plan will be updated regularly as market demand, business strategies and funding sources evolve.
CRUISE GROWTH: As we mark our 20th year as a cruise homeport, our cruise business is stronger than ever. The fourth most popular cruise port in North America, we welcomed our record 1 millionth cruise passenger last year.
In 2019, the port and Royal Caribbean signed an agreement for the cruise line to invest $100 million in a third cruise terminal at Pier 10. Construction will begin this year.
Cruise growth is our biggest revenue generator, accounting for more than half of our total revenues. This revenue helps fund infrastructure and capital improvements to maintain a diversified business.
CARGOS UP: While we saw declines in bulk grain and fertilizer tonnage compared to 2018, tonnage was up for all other cargos, leaving us at 4 million tons in 2019, about even with 2018.
Bulk liquid, which accounts for more than a third of our total tonnage, was up slightly.
The big winner was general cargo, which was up more than 80 percent compared to 2018, due to the wind turbine parts we move through the port. As the state’s wind power industry has grown, so has the amount of wind turbine cargo we move. In 2018, we moved 1,666 pieces. In 2019, it totaled 2,200.
MORE LAY SHIPS: In 2018, port staff took the initiative to attract ships for lay dockage, the term for when ships dock a short time for refueling, inspections, minor repairs, supplies, etc. In 2019, we docked 372 lay ships and collected a total $3.4 million in dockage fees for the port, up 58 percent compared to 2018. That does not include the revenue generated for our private partners, including pilots, tugboat operators and ship suppliers.
GOING GREEN: The board approved the staff’s request to join Green Marine, a voluntary environmental certification program for the North American marine industry. Participants include shipowners, ports, terminals and shipyards based in Canada and the United States.
Green Marine certification as part of a long-term commitment to continuously improve our environmental performance. We would be only the second Texas port to gain the certification.
Also, the new Royal Caribbean terminal will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified. LEED is a globally recognized set of green building standards.
I’m proud of what we accomplished in 2019 and am looking forward to a challenging new year. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.