Hospitality and Tourism


Still the One | Nearly a century after it first opened, the renowned Country Club Plaza in Kansas City remains the region’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment venue. No trip to KC would be complete without experiencing the best that the Plaza has to offer.

Kansas City has no lack of activities for visitors, but even with millions coming here each year, many underestimate how much this city really has to offer. With an increasingly vibrant Downtown and surrounding area, we’re constantly proving to the rest of the country that the region is more than just home to fields and cattle farms.

A large array of attractions designed to appeal to people of all tastes has helped boost regional tourism. In fact, the influx of visitors has contributed substantially to the economic development of the area. Thank out-of-town visitors for their surprisingly significant contribution to Kansas City’s financial picture. Research conducted in 2017 shows that a striking 25.2 million people from outside the region visited Kansas City last year.

That figure is up from previous years, but surprisingly, Jackson County—the heart of the city and home to many of the bigger businesses here—brings in less than half of the tourism dollars spent in the area in that span. Jackson County brought in 48 percent of tourism spending in 2014 while counties with the area on the Kansas side, such as Johnson County, reeled in 22 percent, according to Tourism Economics and Longwood International.

Up to today, tourism spending has not only promoted more tourism and improved the local economy; it has also enhanced the overall image of the city as a place to live, work and do business. Over the period of just one year, the area has had some 25 million visitors. Although the average visitor is calculated as spending only about $129, the volume of visitors is what makes that sector significant. The cost per visitor also goes to show just how good a deal out-of-towners can get among the wide variety of options available in the area.

As an economic powerhouse, tourism sustains roughly one in 19 jobs in the region, or 5.1 percent of employemnt. It’s remarkable that tourism alone keeps nearly 48,000 Kansas City jobs afloat. Tourism also contributed about $3.4 billion in terms of visitor spending, an 8.9 percent increase from the year before. Tourism is also beneficial regarding taxes—money collected through various tourism levies translates into an approximate annual savings of $550 per household.

The most popular activity for tourists is shopping, as indicated by VisitKC’s most recent research. Fully 41 percent of day-trippers and 34 percent of those who stay overnight spend most of their time (and likely money) on shopping. If shopping is your go-to activity, look no further than the Country Club Plaza. The Plaza put Kansas City retail on the national map nearly a century ago, and is home to a plethora of shops and restaurants with a Spanish architectural flair. It’s easy to watch the hours pass by as you walk through the Plaza’s breathtaking scenery.

VisitKC also points out that roughly 85 percent of the year’s visitors came for leisure rather than business purposes. The research also states that over two-thirds of people who visited Kansas City were satisfied with their vacation experience.

Although the majority of people visiting come from Kansas and Missouri, many people also come from Omaha, Chicago and Des Moines. Fifty-three percent of those visiting were here for a day trip or weekend, and that’s just a better reason to come back. (There’s too much that Kansas City has to offer to pack it all into one day, or even one weekend!)

Sound and Fury | Few sights around Kansas City are as awe-inspiring, or as loud, as Arrowhead Stadium on game day.

Even if you’re not a tourist, however, that shouldn’t stop you from acting like one. Why shouldn’t you take advantage of the wealth of amenities Kansas City has to offer? You may call this city your home, but it’s always fun to have a staycation. For the art-admirer, the Nelson-Atkins offers hours of time to lose oneself in its various exhibitions. History buffs can enjoy the National World War I Museum, which overlooks Union Station and provides a remarkable view, while Boulevard Brewing Co. is a good spot to hit for the beer enthusiast. Essentially, Kansas City has something for everyone.

Additionally, the number of visitors—and subsequent spending—has continued to increase over the years. The area’s appeal has increased so much, in fact, that it began breaking records with a nearly half-million increase in out-of-towners from 2015 to 2016 and it’s still growing.

With such a diverse array of shopping, dining and entertainment options—and at a reasonable cost—visitors’ spending has accelerated growth, further aided as the area continues to increase in popularity as a destination for relaxation and fun.