In at least one sector, the Wichita area economy has fully rebounded: Travel and tourism returned to pre-recession highs in 2011, according to Susie Berglund Santo, president of Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Santo, who spoke Monday at the Downtown Rotary Club, said that visitors from outside the area spent slightly more than $700 million on hotels, meals, tickets, shopping and more in the four-county Wichita area.
That was a 5 percent jump from 2010, and it was actually slightly betters than the total posted for 2008.
“I don’t think most people understand just how much is spent in this area,” she said. “It has a huge impact.”
Santo took over at Go Wichita in August after 19 years at Universal Studios Hollywood, most recently as director of international sales.
She talked briefly to Rotarians about several initiatives she plans to undertake in the coming year.
The bureau will revisit its strategic master plan, which lists goals for the coming three and five years, she said. It will be written in consultation with the bureau’s stakeholders in the coming months.
She also wants to develop a detailed profile of the area’s visitors to allow the bureau to more precisely market to them.
“We’ve never done this in Wichita, and it’ll give us a lot of data about our visitors,” she said. “It’s the old saying: You want to fish where the fish are.”
She also wants to redesign the Go Wichita website to make it easier to use.
She will talk more about the bureau’s initiatives at the organization’s annual meeting on Nov. 16.