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To Increase Tourism - Some Want to Change Name
 of Galveston to "City of Galveston Island"

By Kevin Moran, Houston ChronicleMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Nov. 22, 2006 --GALVESTON -- Instead of just "Galveston," this historic city should be called "City of Galveston Island," a firm hired to suggest ways to increase tourism has suggested.

The idea is to be presented to the Galveston City Council next week, but it is not expected to be up for a vote anytime soon, officials said.

The firm says adding the word "Island" to Galveston would broaden the appeal of the area.

"The Convention and Visitors Bureau is going to recommend it," said Brian Distefano, the bureau's marketing director.

Distefano said he will carry the suggested name change to City Hall, along with more than two dozen other recommendations made by Nashville-based marketing firm North Star.

The firm came up with the ideas to spice up city marketing efforts after an $86,000, 10-month study on how to better "brand" the city.

Distefano emphasized the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, which oversees the bureau and commissioned the study, has not endorsed changing the city's name and will not make a formal recommendation to the council.

The branding study was commissioned because the city's tourist attractions, convention capacity and hotel accommodations have changed dramatically in recent years and officials want to get a handle on the potential, Distefano said.

City Manager Steve LeBlanc said council members have not yet considered the suggested name change.

"I'm not totally disagreeable to it because it's not a change that is so dramatic," said Le-

Blanc, a native Galvestonian. "But it doesn't just wow me."

LeBlanc said he has no idea what legal hoops the city would have to jump through to change its name.

Among other recommendations from North Star are:

-- Beautifying main routes such as Seawall Boulevard, Broadway and 61st. -- Making the seawall a monument to the city's past by creating memorials to events and people that shaped the city's history. -- Improving signage throughout the city to make it easier for tourists to navigate. -- Provide a distinctive cellular phone ring tone at www.Galveston.com that will appeal to young people. "It's all outside-the-box thinking, just brainstorming a little," Distefano said.

Some suggestions eventually are expected to form part of a new advertising campaign for the city, Distefano said.

As part of its study, North Star polled visitors, residents and business owners, he said.

kevin.moran@chron.com

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Copyright (c) 2006, Houston Chronicle

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