President’s Article March 2021

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 this year. 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 the state government. In a time when “politics” can be forced to the forefront, our state executive branch and legislative branch both realized this was a good move for both Kansas and 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 the 29th 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 Tourism and the Dept. of Commerce should be joining us and we can all learn more details on the move and how we can help our friends at State Tourism.

I also want to take a moment to remind everyone to pay close attention to the American Rescue Plan that was recently passed on the federal level. As we are all waiting for more specifics on how this can be used, we do know that there are funds that will be made available to every city and town in the state.

Be sure to have the data on your hotel occupancy numbers and any loss of revenue due to COVID as these funds are designed to assist in the tourism industry rebuilding phase. The decision on how these funds will eventually be used will be made on a local level, which again highlights why TIAK always encourages local DMO’s to have a great working relationship with their local and regional elected leaders.

There will be a lot of interest groups hoping to feed at this trough but no industry has been hit harder than travel and tourism. According to US Travel, 2019 travel spending in Kansas was down 33 percent and tax receipts dropped an average of 27 percent across the state. These statistics were shared with all of the Kansas members of Congress and both our US Senators recently during the US Travel virtual event, “Destination Capitol Hill.”

I want to thank all of the members of the Executive and Advocacy Committees, TIAK Board of Directors and State Tourism Director Bridgette Jobe for joining us during the virtual visits. Kansas has remained among the leaders of this event and continues to receive accolades from US Travel in regards to the number of members in attendance and resonance of our key messages to the elected officials and their staff. While the meetings were productive and allowed TIAK to express our need for federal assistance in rebuilding tourism, there was a somber reality and an unspoken recognition that as tourism professionals we make our greatest impact when we are face to face. Well, there’s always next year.

Be sure to keep up on what’s happening with all of the travel and tourism news 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