Kansas City breaks tourism records

New research reveals increases in visitors and visitor spending

Kansas City, Mo.—According to new research released today, the Kansas City region welcomed 25.2 million visitors in 2016, a new record for the destination. The number of visitors grew 2.1 percent from the previous year, meaning that Kansas City welcomed about 500,000 more visitors than in 2015. This growth in travel is just one of the new findings from research commissioned by Visit KC, the city’s hospitality and tourism organization.

Conducted every two years by the firms of Tourism Economics and Longwoods International, the studies examine the economic impact of tourism and the profile of travelers to the Kansas City region, as defined by the counties of Jackson, Clay, Platte, Johnson and Wyandotte.

The research supports the conclusion that tourism remains a vital and growing component of the Kansas City economy. Among the other findings in the economic impact study:

  • Visitor spending grew to a record $3.4 billion in 2016, growing 8.9 percent since 2014. This number has now grown for seven straight years.  
  • Tourism generated a record $5.5 billion in economic impact for the region, including indirect and induced spending.
  • Visitors to Kansas City spent $926 million at hotels and motels in the region in 2016—$21 million more than in 2015.   
  • Tourism-generated employment reached a new high of 47,936 jobs, with 1 in 19.6 area workers sustained directly or indirectly by the industry, continuing a multi-year growth trend.
  • In 2016, tourism to the region generated $380 million in state and local taxes, which in turn saved each area household $550 in taxes.

“Kansas City has accelerated the improvement of new products that enhance the resident and visitor experience, making the destination more vibrant than ever,” said Ronnie Burt, Visit KC President & CEO. “Our new streetcar has already exceeded ridership expectations and our walkable convention district puts groups right in the heart of the city. Add in our lively arts and culture scene and it’s clear that the future of Kansas City’s tourism industry is bright, and we’re excited to continue building upon this wonderful momentum.”

The new research also shows continued growth in tourism spending throughout the metro. Jackson County accounted for nearly half of visitor spending in the Kansas City region at 47 percent. Tourism dollars in Johnson County contributing another 23 percent and Wyandotte County accounted for at least 6 percent (holding steady from 2014).

In addition to gains on the economic front, the 2016 visitor profile study also revealed the demographic makeup of Kansas City’s average traveler:

  • The average overnight visitor is trending younger, with 49 percent of total overnight travelers in the 25-44 demographic.
  • Seventy-five percent of travelers stay in a hotel, motel or bed & breakfast.
  • Seventy-five percent of visitors travel to the area using their own vehicles (16 percent reported using a rental car).
  • Kansas City’s largest origin markets by state are California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

“Tourism is an economic engine for the state of Missouri,” said Burt. “Our visitation numbers and visitor spending keeps growing and the nation is taking notice. As we continue to add new attractions, restaurants and hotels and secure conventions, major concerts and sporting events, Kansas City gives visitors more reasons to come back again and again.”

For other findings from the study, go to VisitKC.com/research.

About Visit KC
Visit KC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ignite global passion for visiting Kansas City. Through marketing, sales and service of the convention and tourism industries, Visit KC supports a vital and growing component of the local economy—generating nearly 48,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in economic impact annually. For more information about Kansas City, go to VisitKC.com.

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Media Contacts

Derek Klaus
National & Convention Media:
Derek Klaus
Director of Communications
816-691-3849
dklaus@visitkc.com | Twitter | LinkedIn
Toni Alexander
Regional & KC Media:
Toni Alexander
Communications Manager
816-691-3848
talexander@visitkc.com | LinkedIn
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