The Travel Industry Association of Kansas (TIAK) held its annual legislative day in Topeka on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, affectionately known as “Destination Statehouse.” Members of the Kansas travel and tourism industry hosted three events throughout the day, giving members several opportunities to meet with legislators directly and advocate for Kansas tourism. Each attendee was easily identifiable by the TIAK-blue “Tourism Matters” button worn proudly which highlighted that in 2016, tourism generated $282 million in state sales tax.
The day began with nearly 80 TIAK members filling the Statehouse Visitor’s Center with a welcome from Linda Craghead, Assistant Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, as well as an educational session provided by Jack Johnson, Chief Advocacy Officer and Foundation Executive Director at Destination International, who offered members an overview of the weaponization of tourism and the impact of travel boycotts on changing policy.
Attendees were joined at the historic Dillon House by almost 60 Kansas legislators in an open house setting where they networked over a buffalo lunch sponsored by the Kansas Buffalo Association, in conjunction with TIAK and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism. A casual dining atmosphere allowed for relaxed conversations and new friendships to be formed.
Throughout the day, the Statehouse was busy with Kansas tourism professionals conducting individual office visits with legislators, observing House and Senate Legislative Sessions, attending committee meetings, enjoying a Statehouse tour and even getting to hear recently appointed Governor Coyler give his state of the state address in the afternoon.
One of the highlights of the annual conference is the popcorn campaign emphasizing to legislators “What’s Popping in Tourism.” In addition to serving freshly-popped popcorn to all Statehouse visitors and personnel, TIAK provided boxes of popcorn that members delivered to their legislators, thanks to Kevin Fern and his popcorn connections! An impression was surely made as each legislator was contacted at some point during the day.
Rounding out the day was the much-anticipated TIAK Legislative Reception where 60 legislators stopped by to “Celebrate Sports Tourism” with more than 100 TIAK members. Attendees enjoyed a showcase of each region of the state and what each has to offer, accompanied by several mascots from around the state. This event is one that legislators really look forward to for its fun and inviting atmosphere. The day ended with an entertaining reception hosted by Visit Topeka at Norseman Brewing Company in the NOTO Arts District.
Thanks in large part to event coordinator Jim Zaleski, as well as a great number of sponsors, a successful day was had by all with TIAK members personally visiting with more than 100 legislators throughout the day’s events. By demonstrating such a tremendous impact for the tourism industry in Kansas, we hope Destination Statehouse is your destination for all things legislative next February 6th!