Volume 16, Issue 3 | March 2021
TIAK Talk is published monthly for members of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas.
By Jim Zaleski
Serving at the Pleasure of the Membership

This year, the NCAA tournament has given a new meaning to MADNESS. A co-worker walked in and asked why there was confetti on my floor, and I explained it was the remaining scraps from my torn-up brackets. Obviously, I hit the garbage can much the same as the players on my teams hit the basket. Oh, well. There’s always next year.

I want to jump right in and thank everyone that assisted in making ERO 48 a success. Our membership was pivotal in providing input to legislators from across the state making this move possible. This was truly an industry-led initiative that brought cooperation from all levels of state government. In a time when “politics” can be forced to the forefront, our state executive and legislative branches both realized this was a good move for Kansans, and we thank them for their leadership.

The press release announcing the ERO becoming law was issued by the Governor’s office on Monday; and similar to before, TIAK provided a key quote. As we move on, I am truly looking forward to working with Bridgette and the entire team at Kansas Tourism as they move into their new home at the Department of Commerce. Be sure to tune in for an update about the next steps in the transition during the scheduled Tourism Huddle on April 14. Both Kansas Tourism and the Department of Commerce should be joining us. We can all learn more about the move and how we can help our friends at State Tourism. Read more.
Governor Relocates Tourism to Department of Commerce to Spur Economic Growth

Governor Laura Kelly announced on Monday the Kansas Tourism Division will officially be part of the Kansas Department of Commerce, in accordance with the Executive Reorganization Order (ERO) Governor Kelly submitted to the Kansas Legislature on Jan. 25 of this year. The 60 calendar day period has expired without action by either the Kansas House or Kansas Senate chamber, therefore the reorganization will occur starting July 1, 2021. 

“Moving the Tourism division into the Department of Commerce sends a clear message to our industry partners and prospective companies that my administration will use every tool at our disposal to spur new economic growth,” Governor Kelly said. “This realignment will support our businesses, our tourism industry, and will play a significant role in our COVID-19 recovery efforts.” Read more.
April Tourism Huddle

TIAK and Kansas Tourism will host our next virtual huddle on Wednesday, April 14 at 1:00 PM. The Kansas Department of Commerce will be joining us and talking about the ERO and what that means for the industry moving forward. Zoom login information coming soon.

Questions should be submitted in advance to office@tiak.org; and there will be a maximum of 250 participants. Each update will be recorded and made available online to anyone that can't participate live.

Recordings of past updates can be found at: https://www.travelks.com/industry/covid19-resources.
Reflections on Destination Capitol Hill
By Katie Walkley, Visit Overland Park

TIAK members from across the state joined screens on March 17 as a unified voice for tourism at this year’s Destination Capitol Hill. It was my first experience at this event, and I was so proud to be part of the Kansas delegation. U.S. Travel did an impressive job coordinating the virtual conference and made it easy for members to participate. We all know that connecting with our leaders in Congress is more important than ever; and I left the meetings with the feeling that our dialogue was meaningful and impactful to each office.

President of TIAK Jim Zaleski began each conversation with how travel is by far the hardest hit industry by the coronavirus pandemic. He provided Congressional offices with Kansas specific numbers of lost jobs and lost revenue before inviting other members to share their personal experiences. 

U.S. Travel prepared us well with the industry’s most crucial asks of Congress. Talking points included federal relief measures such as an extension of PPP funding, stimulus measures that will drive travel demand, protecting Brand USA, and the restoration of business travel, meetings, and events.

Each Congressional office expressed its strong support of the travel industry throughout the day. Some members were able to meet with us personally while others sent their top staff due to scheduling issues. Senator Jerry Moran made a point of speaking with our group despite his incredibly packed agenda. He even stuck around an extra minute for a little travel trivia that Kevin Fern put to his staff. Moments like that reveal the true connection that our members have with our federal lawmakers. 

The Kansas Delegation had an impressive showing of tourism organizations and businesses – I had a lot of fun getting to know the group throughout the day. A special thank you to Natalie Bright and Marlee Carpenter who guided us through a successful event. I look forward to next year’s Destination Capitol Hill when we can all gather in person and do it again!
National Travel & Tourism Week: May 2-8

Save the date for National Travel and Tourism Week: May 2-8, 2021. This year, NTTW will recognize the POWER OF TRAVEL and the industry’s role in bringing back our vibrant communities, restoring the U.S. economy, rebuilding our workforce and reconnecting America.

Use these resources with the media, elected officials and the public to share how the Power of Travel will help drive America's recovery.
U.S. Travel Association's Travel Recovery Dashboard

After a challenging fall and winter, signals of travel’s recovery are turning positive. Measures of actual travel activity in February improved slightly relative to 2019, and forward-looking booking activity has quickened, with gains in hotel bookings and air travel. The improvement represents the first substantive gains since the easing of lockdown protocols last year (May/June 2020).

Travel sentiment has been steadily increasing in lockstep with the expansion of the vaccine rollout. This effect is most pronounced among leisure travelers, of whom 87% now have travel plans in the next six months. Business travel sentiment has ceased its slide but is still expected to lag leisure travel recovery—only 21% of companies plan to resume domestic business travel in the next three months.

Improving health conditions, expanding vaccine distribution, and generous fiscal stimulus together support the outlook of 7% GDP growth for 2021, an unemployment rate of 4.6% by the end of the year, and a robust travel recovery in the latter half of 2021. Several factors may hinder the pace of the travel industry's recovery: delays in vaccine distribution, a rise in COVID-19 variants and non-uniform reopening procedures across the country. Learn more.
February Lodging Report

TIAK has an agreement with Smith Travel Research (STR) to provide members with statewide reports on hotel occupancy each month. The following data is provided directly from STR:

Kansas had 62% property participation & 77% hotel room participation in February.
Lofton Reappointed to Fair Board

On March 1, Gov. Laura Kelly reappointed Holly Lofton of Lindsburg to the Kansas State Fair Board. She has been a member of the Fair Board since March of 2018.

Lofton is the director of tourism for the Lindsborg Convention and Visitors Bureau and is TIAK's designee to the board. This is her second term on the board. Congratulations, Holly!
Buzzard Bash All Day Festival

WaKeeney will celebrate the return of the Buzzards with an all day FREE festival on April 24. Here's a schedule for the Buzzard Bash:

8:00am - Poker Fun Run
9:00 - Kids Find and Color the Buzzard
9:30 - Super Market Sweep
10:00 - Car Show, Craft Fair, Adult Scavenger Hunt
11:00 - Food Vendor
Noon - Kids Bike Rodeo and Beer Garden
1:00pm - Horseshoe & Washers Tournament
5:00 - Free Hamburger & Hot Dog Feed
8:00 - Street Dance with the band PARAMOUNT


TIAK Board Meetings
April 8, June 10, August 12, October 18, December 9

TIAK Committee Meetings
June 9, July 8, September 9, November 11

June Dinner and Educational Seminar
June 9-10

Kansas Tourism Conference
October 18-20, Liberal
October 2022, Wichita
October 2023, Dodge City