Tourism Incentive Program

Is my program eligible for a TIP award ?

To be considered for TIP funding, your program must be a partnership with at least one non-profit organization involved in the tourism industry and one hotel. The project should represent an innovative and active tourism marketing program that will promote collaborations within and across sectors of the tourism industry as well as draw visitors from more than 90 miles away. All applicants must be within 90 miles of the city of Houston.

What may I use the awarded funds for?

Examples of eligible uses of TIP funds include: 

  • Public relations
  • Paid advertising production and placement (for recognized and audited out-of-region media)
  • Social media campaign
  • Web site development /enhancement and/or search engine optimization targeted to leisure tourists
  • Web-based marketing
  • Video/CD /DVD production
  • Printing and mailing costs for collateral materials including guides, directories and direct mail campaigns
  • Promotional activities
  • International marketing opportunities
  • Special marketing opportunities (Familiarization [“FAM”]  tours)
Where can I view the online application forms?

The Letter of Intent (required) and the Full Application are available at

What is the process of applying?

You must apply online using the portal at First, a Letter of Intent must be submitted and will be reviewed by the HFC staff. Once accepted, the lead organization contact will be notified via email that the Full Application is now available online for you to complete.

Are there any opportunities to receive guidance on the TIP application?

An informative webinar will be offered on August 8, 2017, with a focus on writing a strong TIP Application. You may register at

Do I have to complete the application in one online session?

No, you can begin the application and choose to save your input and finish it at another time.  Just click the “Save” button located at the bottom of each input page.  To return to your application, go to

To ensure no application data is lost, click on the “Finish Later” button at the bottom of each application page.

When will I be contacted after submitting my Letter of Intent (LOI)?

After you submit your LOI, you will receive an email confirmation.  The staff will review the LOI’s as they are received so the Full Application will be released on a rolling basis.  Should your LOI require additional information you will be contacted by a Houston First staff member to discuss ways to strengthen your proposal. If your LOI is accepted, you will be issued an email invitation to complete the Full Application.

Can I mail or email my application?

No; Houston First accepts applications only via the online portal.

Who should I contact if I have questions?

All questions should be emailed to

What does in-kind contribution include?

In-kind contributions represent the value that the project partners will provide that is not in the form of cash.  This might be discounts off the regular price, coupons, free amenities or experiences, etc.  The value of this in-kind contribution may have to be estimated if the number of program participants is unknown.  For example, if a hotel offers free parking as part of the marketing package, the normal cost of that parking times the number of rooms you believe will be sold as a result of your project, would be the value of in-kind from the hotel partner. Please note:  the value of in-kind contributions cannot exceed 25% of the total partner contributions.

Who makes the decision on which projects are awarded TIP funds?

The applications will be reviewed and scored initially by the TIP Committee members with recommendations sent to the HFC Joint Tourism Committee for final selection.

May I apply for 2018 TIP funds if I have previously received Marketing Matching Grant funds?

Yes, you may apply again this year for the continuation of a successful 2016 or 2017 program or a new program.

Will I receive my 2018 TIP award at the beginning of the year in a lump sum?

We plan to hold a press event and award ceremony in January 2018 to announce the winners of 2018 Tourism Incentive Program funds.  At that ceremony, each lead organization will receive ten percent of the total amount awarded.  Thereafter, funds will be distributed on a reimbursement basis for actual costs incurred.  The reimbursement form will be available at