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KC tourism breaks records with 24 million visitors, $3.1 billion in spending

According to research released by Visit KC, in 2014, tourism-generated employment was pegged at 46,621 jobs, a record for the area.
According to research released by Visit KC, in 2014, tourism-generated employment was pegged at 46,621 jobs, a record for the area.

The Kansas City area drew 24 million visitors who spent $3.1 billion last year, both records, says research released Thursday by Visit KC, the city’s tourism and convention promoter.

The research, conducted every two years by two companies, Tourism Economics and Longwoods International, aims to measure the economic impact of tourism and detail the characteristics of travelers to Jackson, Clay, Platte, Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

Among the findings:

Visitors’ spending was up 12 percent from two years before and generated a record $5.1 billion in economic activity for the region.

Hotels and motels took in $845 million of that spending, up $73 million.

Tourism-generated employment was pegged at 46,621 jobs, a record that continued a multiyear growth trend. One in 19 jobs in the region, 5.2 percent, is sustained by tourism either directly or indirectly, the researchers said.

Tourism last year generated $153 million in state taxes and $202 million in local taxes from the five counties. Replacing that tax revenue from residents would have cost the average area household $525 in taxes in 2014.

Overnight visits rose 6.2 percent year over year. About half of the visitors stay at least one night; the other half come for day trips. Four out of five overnight visits are for leisure, though overnight business visitors rose from 13 percent in 2012 to 17 percent last year.

Among the counties, Jackson County took in 48 percent of visitor spending. Wyandotte County took in the least, 6 percent, but that was up from two years before. Johnson County’s share rose from 17 percent in 2012 to 22 percent last year.

In a Visit KC news release, the agency’s president and CEO, Ronnie Burt, said: “Kansas City has accelerated the improvement of new products that enhance the resident and visitor experience — from our walkable convention district to the arts and culture scene to the new streetcar that comes online next year. … We are excited about the future and will continue to build upon this wonderful momentum.”

The research detailing the demographics of visitors found:

The average visitor is a 42-year-old man, traveling with a party averaging 2.6 people.

Daily spending averaged $63.33 per visitor.

Thirty-eight percent of travelers stay in a hotel, and 90 percent travel here by car.

The biggest markets for visitors by state are Missouri, 21 percent, and Kansas, 20 percent. Nebraska and Texas are next at 6 percent each, and Iowa, California and Illinois at 5 percent.

Greg Hack: 816-234-4439, @GregHack

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