Saturday marked the opening of Travel and Tourism Week in Kansas, which runs through next Sunday. The Barton County Commission Monday morning is set to authorize a proclamation to recognize the importance this industry plays in our local, regional and state economies.
Great Bend sits astride the Santa Fe Trail and the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway. Communities in the county are rich in heritage and history, and are within a few hours drive of so much more.
Taken as a whole, Barton and the surrounding counties have much to offer. They are poised to cash in on the booming tourism business.
According to information from Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Cris Collier, travel and tourism generated $5.8 in economic input in Kansas in 2011, with $4.5 billion going to tourism-related industries. Closer to home, it that same year, travelers and tourists spent $38.6 million in Barton County alone.
Looking at this another way, travelers spending generated 14.4 percent of all Kansas state and local tax revenues. The average tax contribution per Kansas household was $917.
What’s more, travel is among the Kansas’ largest private-sector employers, supporting 128,000 tourism-related jobs in 2011. That was up 7.8 percent from 2009.
But, its about more than dollars. Tourism is a win-win proposition.
Sure, communities and businesses benefit from the revenue, but those traveling benefit as well. They see, touch and experience history, culture and commerce they might not have otherwise known.
The tourists learn. This makes travel important to the destinations in another way – it gives them the opportunity to make a good impression and tell their story the way they want it told.
Tourism is, indeed, a two-way road.