President’s Article Feb 2021

Hello fellow tourism professionals and welcome to one of my favorite sports seasons, political season. Good news is we don’t have to worry about the Destination Statehouse being cancelled due to a super bowl parade, bad news is…we don’t have to worry about a super bowl parade cancelling destination statehouse. Well at least Tom Brady showed some of us “old guys” there is still hope for us.

As far as political season is concerned, the Kansas Capital Building is “burning up the ink” as they used to say a long time ago when the bills were actually printed in the basement. Yes, I have been around capital buildings that long. As TIAK navigates the 2021 political season we couldn’t have two better people behind our initiatives in Natalie and Marlee. It is a pleasure working with them and my only disappointment about this political season is that we won’t be watching more of it in-person in Topeka.

Of course, the main thing TIAK is watching from the political grandstands is Executive Reorganization Order 48, the piece of legislation that would move the state tourism department from Wildlife and Parks to Commerce. I have to say this has been a well-organized and very transparent project and the TIAK Executive Committee was able to sit down with both Secretary Loveless and Lieutenant Governor Toland early on where we voiced any concerns and discussed the high potential that could come from the move.

This was very much an industry driven item and while TIAK has been at the forefront from the beginning it has really been a joint effort across all levels. I was joined during the Senate Commerce Committee meeting by Secretary Loveless and David Soffer from the department of commerce in giving testimony on the ERO. This was very positively received by all members of the committee. The ERO was even passed with approval to the full senate on a unanimous vote, with a bipartisan motion putting the item up in front of the committee. We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better result and we keep our fingers crossed as it moves through the political process.

For those of you that watched the committee proceedings you have heard the below excerpt from my comments, but I thought placing it in this column would let everyone share in this TIAK success.

As an organization, TIAK believes that strong communication across all divisions of the State is vital to our success. However, the goal of bringing revenue into the state, either through a visitor or through industry is one that is shared by Kansas Tourism and the Department of Commerce. This synergy, created with the movement to within Commerce will allow each entity to exponentially support the other, making the whole much greater than its individual parts…We further believe this coordinated marketing effort will help establish and promote a consistent, strong state brand and a single “front door” to Kansas, for both visitors and industry alike.

I also want to thank Secretary Loveless for his great testimony, which included high praise for the tourism industry and those working in the state tourism department. He was very kind in referring to me as “Charmingly Persistent,” a new moniker I am still not totally sure how to accept. But all kidding aside, this was a well-executed project that displayed just how well all departments are working together on this initiative.

I would like to extend a thank you to all members of TIAK that have reached out to their state level elected officials on behalf of ERO 48. If there is any hesitancy on this ERO it would be the misunderstanding that communication or the ability to continue to work with Wildlife and Parks would be lessened in any way. It was made clear both in our early discussions and during testimony that the promotion of our wildlife opportunities including hunting, fishing and our state parks would continue to be priorities in the cooperative marketing of all aspects of our state. This discussion was also very well received by the senate commerce committee and added greatly to our stance on the ERO.

Be sure to keep up on what’s happening with the ERO and all of the happenings during “political season” by following the weekly reports provided by Bright & Carpenter in “News Clips,” legislative updates and in this monthly newsletter. Thank you all, again, for your support and continued efforts to move TIAK and the travel industry forward during these challenging times.

God bless,

Jim Zaleski, TIAK President
Serving at the Pleasure of the Membership