Hospitality and Tourism

Wherever you’re from, Kansas City is dedicated to making you feel right at home—and has the assets to do just that.

The Kansas City area is no one-trick pony when it comes to taking care of visitors. Of course, there’s a vibrant and growing city center filled with all the amenities and attractions mentioned elsewhere in this issue.

Royal Welcome | A World Series caliber baseball team in 2014 and 2015, which helped fill Kaufman Stadium on many a night, has helped this region boost its tourism numbers to an estimated 24 million, officials say.

 But Jackson County, Missouri, home to the city proper, accounted for less than half of the tourism dollars spent in the region during the last year for which solid figures are available (2014); those numbers come from the research partnership between Tourism Economics and Longwood international.

Despite being the central player among the five counties that make up the Kansas City region’s core (Jackson, Clay and Platte in Missouri; Johnson and Wyandotte in Kansas), Jackson County brought in just 48 percent of 2014 tourism spending. Johnson County, Kansas, right across the state line, claimed 22 percent.

In the course of the year, the region welcomed 24 million visitors—about a half-million every week. While the per-visitor outlay of cash came to just $129, the volume of visitors caused that modest spending to add up nicely. Tourism-related commerce totaled $3.1 billion for the year, according to the research. And while that $129 figure may seem to represent a lack of big spenders, it also reflects the great value offered by the Kansas City region—value that is built into pricing for accommodations, dining and more.

Here’s some more of what the study found:

ν Hotels and motels brought in $845 million during the study period, or about 27 percent of the tourism total. That was a healthy 9.5 percent increase from the $73 million noted during the previous study period.

Taking into account what is known as the “economic-activity multiplier effect,” the total outlay by tourists resulted in a record $5.1
billion in overall economic activity for the region.

  • Employment produced by companies connected to tourism also set a record by providing more than 46,000 jobs.  One out of every 19 jobs in the region was tourism related, accounting for 5.2 percent of total employment.
  • The total dollars in state and local taxes levied on tourism directly, or on the activities resulting from it, totaled $357 million. Divide that by the number of properties in the area and the average Kansas City region household saw a $525 tax savings they can thank out-of-towners for paying.
  • About half the visitors who came to the region in 2014, according to the study, made short visits, with half of those being day trips. The good news about the other half is that 80 percent of the overnight visits were for leisure rather than business purposes. Ronnie Burt, CEO of VisitKC, had this to say about the report: “Kansas City has accelerated the improvement of new products that enhance the resident and visitor experience.” He went on to refer to Kansas City’s convenient convention district, its arts and culture, and its new streetcar line. Burt also said, “We are excited about the future and will continue to build upon this wonderful momentum.”
  • As for where all of KC’s visitors traveled from, the largest percentages came from Missouri and Kansas (21 and
    20 percent, respectively). Other statistically-significant contributors were Texas and Nebraska, each sending 6 percent of the total, followed by California, Illinois and Iowa kicking in 5 percent each.

The Power of Art | Tens of thousands of area residents and visitors from all over turn out each year for the Plaza Art Fair on the Country Club Plaza.

Whatever their reasons for coming to this bustling metropolitan region—whether for business, family, staycationing or wanderlust—visitors find plenty to see and do.

From the myriad barbecue joints, each offering a slightly different take on Kansas City’s signature meal, to its jazz history, celebrated by the American Jazz Museum and various clubs around town, to March Madness and the College Basketball Experience and Hall of Fame, to the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs, the region made it easy to fill up whatever time people had available.

Add to all of that a world-class performing arts center and the Kansas City Zoo (always a top tourism draw and always pressing forward with new attractions and features), it’s clear that visitors are leaving Kansas City with many reasons to return.