One year ago on July 1, the Kansas Tourism Office embarked on a new adventure as a division of the Kansas Dept of Commerce. This past year has been a whirlwind of activity. In some ways it seems as if we just moved our offices last week, and in other ways it seems as if we have been here forever. Any way you look at it, this has been a year of change and growth.
Milestone celebrations are the perfect time to look back and reevaluate. So, I wanted to share with you some of the progress that Kansas Tourism has achieved in the past year.
We have added three new team members since July 1 of last year. Kelsey Tully - Agritourism Manager, Lisa Hecker – Byways and Signage Manager, and Hunter Feyerherm – Website and Database Manager. We have also hired a summer intern Tyler Cunningham, a senior from Pitt State. Each of these staff additions have brought knowledge and support to our overall marketing efforts of Kansas.
This past legislative session, Kansas Tourism received a $900,000 budget increase. This is one of the priorities identified when Kansas Tourism moved to the Dept of Commerce, and we are thrilled with the additional opportunities this brings.
Through the American Rescue Plan, Kansas Tourism received $3.5 Million through the EDA state Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation dollars. This money is already being put to good use to help stimulate the travel industry in Kansas through additional marketing efforts, TASK grants, asset gathering, and support for our state parks.
Using some of the EDA dollars mentioned above, for the first time in many years Kansas Tourism had a full-blown spring marketing campaign that consisted of digital marketing, radio, broadcast and connected TV, and billboards in our surrounding state markets. We are already seeing an increase in website traffic and travel guide requests due to this campaign.
In the past year, we increased by over $100,000 the amount of Attraction Development Grant dollars that Kansas Tourism is providing to local communities to assist in the development of new attractions or the enhancements of existing attractions. Since 2019, we have had a 234% dollar amount increase in annual Attraction Development Grant awards.
In the past year, we have launched the first 5 chapters in our To The Stories video series. Experience the Space Race in Kansas, Get a Taste of Kansas at Union Horse Distilling, Mountain Biking in Kansas? Yep We’ve Got It!, Kansas: A Cowboy State, and our latest video – The Smoke Show: A story of Kansas BBQ. I cannot wait to share with you what we have planned for To The Stories videos in the upcoming year. And you can’t forget the successful Kansas Day celebration video that we released on January 29, 2022.
This is just a sampling of the accomplishments that Kansas Tourism has had in this past year. We realize there is much more work for us to do, and I will be honest, I do get impatient sometimes with how long growth takes. But I am confident we are moving in the right direction on how we are showcasing Kansas to the rest of the world. And I know this next year is going to yield even more progress.
As I look to the next year in the development of the Kansas Tourism Office, it seems that To The Stars has become even more relevant. To The Stars reminds me to dream big of what this Kansas Tourism office can be, and to never give up on making those dreams a reality.