OPINION

Tourism is a cornerstone for Kansas economic recovery and growth

By David Toland
Special to Gannett Kansas
Lt. Gov. David Toland

Tourism — which is about using the assets we have to bring new dollars into our state — is key to growing the Kansas economy. That’s why, during National Travel and Tourism Week May 2-8, I’m pleased to celebrate the reorganization of Kansas Tourism into the Kansas Department of Commerce, effective July 1.

Every new resident and business developer is first a visitor to our state. Kansas Tourism and local partners create a great first impression for all new arrivals. Working as a team, Tourism and dedicated partners inspire exploration and personify Kansas ideals and values, which all help visitors fall in love with Kansas.

These interactions also go a long way toward welcoming and attracting the decision-makers who create new economic growth, while also showcasing the amazing quality of life their employees will experience in Kansas.

Travel has a direct impact on every household in Kansas. In 2019, the state welcomed 36.5 million travelers who spent $7.3 billion on hotels, retail purchases, food and entertainment. These dollars continue rippling through the economy in the form of jobs, housing, local purchases and tax revenue.

It’s important to note how visitor spending reduces the tax burden on every Kansas household by more than $600 each year. Travel is a strong and positive force for the Kansas economy.

Tourism also is a driver of state pride and resident retention. Kansas Tourism recently rolled out a fantastic new marketing campaign — “To The Stars” — which showcases the spirit and opportunities Kansas has to offer the world. It presents our state in a light that many Kansans know in their hearts, but one that isn’t always depicted in the media. The thoughtful marketing of Kansas pays dividends by both attracting new residents and helping Kansans feel pride and connection with our state.

The Kansas tourism industry saw growth during the previous decade, but during a difficult 2020, the tourism economic engine slowed. But with careful planning and support, 2021 is set to be a year of rebuilding and growth for the future. That’s exciting, which is why I’m thrilled to have Kansas Tourism joining our team to put their extraordinary skills and unique perspective to work fostering economic recovery and new prosperity in our state.

I’m very thankful to Governor Kelly and the Kansas Legislature for making this reorganization possible. And I’m tremendously excited about the work Kansas Tourism, led by Director Bridgette Jobe, has done and will continue to do for our state.

The marriage of Kansas Tourism and the Department of Commerce means incredible new opportunities to bring new dollars and prosperity to our state and local communities. We’re headed to the stars … and beyond.

David Toland, a seventh-generation Kansan, is the lieutenant governor of Kansas and secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce.