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Six million visitors a year see Wichita as a great destination

  • Published Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, at 9:12 a.m.

Go Wichita is celebrating 31 years as an independent organization today and celebrating at our 2011 Travel Industry Outlook Annual Meeting. At this celebration, we will share our 2011 successes and what we see on the horizon for 2012.

Charged with marketing the greater Wichita area as a destination, we have seen first-hand the challenges that have impacted the travel and tourism industry during the past few years – just as other industries have faced their challenges. Even amidst these challenges, Wichita has been fortunate to have maintained a solid travel industry and has recently seen increases, providing indications for greater growth in the near future.

Tourism is economic development. The Wichita area has 6 million visitors annually who spend $702 million in our local businesses. These visitors contribute $62 million in city, county and state taxes, and contribute to nearly 12,000 travel industry jobs with a payroll of $180 million.

Let’s remember the almost $700 million worth of tourism-related development in the past few years that has improved the Wichita area’s viability as a destination. This includes new and renovated hotels such as the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Wichita Downtown and Holiday Inns. There are new and enhanced attractions such as the Keeper of the Plains Plaza, the Kansas Star Casino, the Warren IMAX Theatre and Botanica’s Children’s Garden. Plus two new arenas – Intrust Bank Arena and Hartman Arena – with more projects on the horizon. These are only a few of the recent tourism developments in our area.

In addition to marketing the Wichita area as a destination, Go Wichita’s role is to be a resource to help you make your next event a successful and memorable one. Whether you’re planning a convention, association meeting or reunion, I urge you to “Go Wichita.”

Six million visitors each year think Wichita is a great destination. When famed opera singer Luciano Pavarotti performed here, he was asked, “Why Wichita?” His response was, “Why not Wichita?”

I agree with Pavarotti and hope we all wholeheartedly agree that we have a great city that is getting greater and has an even greater future.

John Rolfe is president and CEO of Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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