Group: Tourism adds $1 billion to economy

11/17/2012 7:16 AM

11/17/2012 7:17 AM

Travel and leisure spending and taxes contributed just over $1 billion to the Wichita area economy last year.

That was among the numbers offered those attending the Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting Friday at the Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre.

Susie Santo, bureau president, said a study showed that in 2011, $762 million was spent on restaurants, hotels, tickets and other leisure activities in the Wichita area economy, up 5 percent from 2010 and a 1 percent gain over 2008.

“Usually when you look at 1 percent you say that’s flat, but considering it against your best year, that’s amazing,” Santo said.

And she said the number doesn’t include $245 million in local, state and payroll taxes generated by the spending.

She said tourism and leisure spending created 11,200 jobs.

It’s too early to make a call on 2012, she said, but she highlighted the impact of the American Rabbit Breeders Association Convention and “The Lion King” theatrical run.

In 2013, Santo said she is embarking on several initiatives: a master plan that will map out the next three and five years.

She also wants to develop a detailed profile of the area’s visitors to allow the bureau to more precisely market to them.

And she wants to redesign the Go Wichita website to make it easier to use.

Winners of the CVB’s annual awards:

• Innkeeper of the Year – Hotel at Waterwalk
• Destination Promotion Award – Theater League of Wichita.
• Corporate Partnership Award – City of Wichita, Wichita Area Hotel/Lodging Committee, ABC Taxi and Best Cab.
• Distinguished Service Award – Stephen Stewart, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

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