Wichita, Kan. (May 1, 2022) – National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, will spotlight the critical role that travel will play in driving economic growth and building the path forward through the theme Future of Travel.
Celebrated annually the first full week in May, NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to elevate the economic power of travel in the U.S. The 39th Annual NTTW (May 1-7) arrives as the industry looks ahead to future growth and success following the challenges of the past two years.
“NTTW has special significance this year as the travel industry looks ahead to a bright future,” said Visit Wichita President and CEO Susie Santo. “There is much to celebrate in Wichita – the heart of the country – as we see tourism rebounding nationally and locally.”
An economic impact study recently conducted for Visit Wichita by Tourism Economics, the leader in tourism research, reported that visitor spending in Sedgwick County fell by more than $500 million in 2020. This loss was felt by local hotels, attractions, retail shops, restaurants and tourism-related businesses, Visit Wichita says.
“The pandemic has shown us how important visitor spending is to the local economy and its significant impact on local jobs, businesses and venues,” said Santo. “The team at Visit Wichita remains committed to a full recovery of the tourism economy. We look forward to continuing to work with local shops, eateries, attractions, hotels and more to advance the travel and tourism industry in Wichita.”
Those losses guided the organization to focus on recovery efforts in 2021. Santo says solid research and strategy to inform the organization’s decisions was used to first stabilize tourism and to then grow it back to pre-pandemic levels and beyond. The organization drove hotel occupancy through leisure advertising efforts, booking sporting events and strengthening relationships with meeting planners to boost future meeting and convention business.
By the end of the first quarter in 2022, hotel occupancy is up by nearly 28 percent from where it was a year ago and Visit Wichita has already welcomed a number of impactful events such as NAIA Wrestling National Championship, NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional Rounds and the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s National Championship Series to name a few.
Also this year, the community will be positively impacted by conventions like the Central States Shrine Association Annual Regional Conference and the Small Market Meetings Conference, which will attract 250-plus meeting planners to the city. The organization is looking forward to hosting more sporting events later in 2022, like the U.S. Figure Skating Theatre on Ice and The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
“Strengthening local businesses will always be our priority, too. Our goal is to add value and to provide resources and opportunities to our partners’ marketing teams,” said Santo. “In addition to the new and exciting exhibits and activities our museum and attraction partners are bringing to Wichita this year – like Washed Ashore at Botanica and Dogs! A Science Tail at Exploration Place – we are happy to launch the Wicked Brew Tour, which is expected to drive more than 15,000 visits to local coffee shops and breweries over a four-month period. We will also be bringing back the Wichita Attractions Tour for a second year. Last year, the attractions tour resulted in more than 1,000 visits to local attractions and museums – and we hope to see that grow even more in 2022.”
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About Visit Wichita
Visit Wichita markets the greater Wichita area as a major convention and tourism destination, thereby enhancing the economic development of the city, county, region and state. Visit Wichita is led by president and CEO Susie Santo, and in 2019 travel and tourism contributed nearly $1.1 billion in economic impact to the greater Wichita area.