All Roads Lead to KC

Kansas City breaks tourism records, focuses on drawing meetings and events

The Huffington Post named Kansas City THE COOLEST CITY IN AMERICA.

Travel + Leisure ranked KC as the No. 1 affordable getaway five years in a row. Yelp rated the Nelson-Atkins Museum as the best in the country. The city’s top chefs keep winning notoriety and its makers and doers, like Baldwin Denim and Christopher Elbow Chocolates, keep creat- ing a nationwide buzz. And if there was an award for making visitors feel like locals, Kansas City would grab that title, too.

It’s no wonder the Kansas City region welcomed 25.2 million visitors in 2016, a new record for the destination. The number of visitors grew 2.1 percent from the previous year. This growth in travel is just one of the new findings from research commissioned by Visit KC, the city’s hospitality and tourism organization.

Conducted every two years by the firms of Tourism Economics and Longwoods Inter- national, the studies examine the economic impact of tourism and the profile of travelers to the Kansas City region, as defined by the counties of Jackson, Clay, Platte, Johnson and Wyandotte. The research supports the conclusion that meetings, conferences and events remain a vital and growing compo- nent of the Kansas City economy.

“Kansas City has accelerated the im- provement of new products that enhance the resident and visitor experience, making the destination more vibrant than ever,” said Ronnie Burt, Visit KC President & CEO. “Our new streetcar [which connects downtown hotels, venues and the conven- tion center] has already exceeded ridership expectations and our walkable convention district puts groups right in the heart of the city. Add in our lively arts and culture scene and it’s clear that the future of Kansas City’s tourism industry is bright, and we’re excited to continue building upon this wonderful momentum.”

Among the Other Findings in the Economic Impact Study:

• Visitor spending grew to a record $3.4 billion in 2016, growing 8.9 percent since 2014. This number has now grown for seven straight years.

• Tourism generated a record $5.5 billion in economic impact for the region, including indirect and induced spending.

• Visitors to Kansas City spent $926 million at hotels and motels in the region in 2016—$21 million more than in 2015.

Tourism-generated employment reached a new high of 47,936 jobs, with 1 in 19.6 area workers sustained directly or indirectly by the industry, continuing a multi-year growth trend.

In 2016, tourism to the region generated $380 million in state and local taxes, which in turn saved each area household $550 in taxes.

The new research also shows continued growth in tourism spending throughout the metro. Jackson County accounted for nearly half of visitor spending in the Kansas City region at 47 percent. Tourism dollars in Johnson County contributing another 23 percent and Wyandotte County accounted for at least 6 percent (holding steady from 2014).

In Addition to Gains on the Economic Front, The 2016 Visitor Profile Study also Revealed the Demographic Makeup of Kansas City’s Average Traveler:

• The average overnight visitor is trending younger, with 49 percent of total overnight travelers in the 25-44 demographic.
• Seventy-five percent of travelers stay in a hotel, motel or bed & breakfast.
• Seventy-five percent of visitors travel to the area using their own vehicles (16 percent reported using a rental car).
• Kansas City’s largest origin markets by state are California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

“Tourism is an economic engine for the state of Missouri,” said Burt. “Our visitation numbers and visitor spending keeps growing and the nation is taking notice. As we continue to add new attractions, restaurants and hotels and secure conventions, major concerts and sporting events, Kansas City gives visitors more reasons to come back again and again.”