By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The director of tourism in Kansas says that many of the state’s communities are in a good position to capitalize on trends that have emerged since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bridgette Jobe said that while some of the trends actually began before the pandemic, they were heightened as Americans began changing the way they travel, stay and spend.
“We know that travelers are looking for simplicity; they’re getting back to their roots and visiting friends and family,” Jobe said. “That’s always been something in Kansas that has been big for us. But people are also looking for simpler ways to travel. They want itineraries that are already made. They don’t want to think hard about what they are going to do when they come to Kansas.”
Jobe was the featured speaker during the March 3 First Friday e-Call, a monthly online series hosted by K-State Research and Extension that helps to nurture small businesses and inspire entrepreneurship in Kansas. The online discussions, which routinely host dozens of Kansas citizens from the public and private sectors, are available free each month.
Jobe cited data indicating that some of the tourism trends in Kansas currently include simplicity, willingness to explore, outdoor activities and non-traditional lodging.
“We also know that more people are willing to drive than before,” she said. “And we’ve always been a drive state. That is playing to our advantage now that people are much more willing to drive to a destination.”
In 2021, studies indicate Kansas attracted 33.7 million annual visitors who spent approximately $7 billion in the state. Jobe said tourism is responsible for 60,300 direct job, and 24,200 indirect jobs. In 2021, the state collected $1.3B in government revenues from visitor spending, visitor-supported jobs and business sales.
“People often ask how this affects them directly,” Jobe said. “Each household in Kansas would have to be taxed an additional $613 annually to replace the taxes generated by visitor activity.”
Jobe said the Kansas Tourism office – which is affiliated with the Kansas Department of Commerce – gathers annual data on visitors to the state.
“We’re always wanting to find out where our visitors are coming from, what they’re doing when they get here, how much they’re spending and what their perception are of our state,” she said.
Then, she said, the data collected is broken down by every Kansas region and county, and reported online.
Jobe added that the Kansas Tourism office has two grant programs available to the state’s communities:
- The Attraction Development grant is available to promote and develop new attraction, or expand existing attractions.
- The Marketing Brand grant is available to support new marketing efforts.
More information regarding tourism and opportunities for Kansas communities is available by sending email to Jobe at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the Kansas Tourism website at https://www.travelks.com
Jobe’s March 3 talk and other First Friday presentations are available online from K-State Research and Extension