Volume 20, Issue 6 | June 2023

Published monthly for members of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas.


By Melissa Dixon

Hays Convention & Visitors Bureau

Hello TIAK members,

This month I’m asking our staff and our tourism partners, “What’s our next big thing?”

It’s a tough question to ponder, especially when there are so many economic hurdles – like rising costs and workforce – that seem to be higher priority. Nevertheless, it’s ALWAYS a good time to invest in your community’s future.


There are several big ideas floating around our community, all worth pursuing, but some are so big/complicated/unfamiliar that they seem out of reach. We are asking ourselves questions like:

-         Would our citizens see the value in this and support it?

-         Does anyone else in our community have this same dream?

-         Who else would benefit from this?

-         Can we team up with an unlikely partner to make it possible?

I am inspired by our ARC Park, Hays’ Accessible Recreation Complex, that provides accessible play for children of all abilities. It started as one mom’s mission to provide a safe playground for her special needs son. After four years of grant writing, creative fundraising, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, the ARC Park is now an incredible amenity for our region, paving the way for other communities. The positive momentum continues as fundraising has begun for Phase 2!

So, my challenge to you is to leverage your partners and run with a crazy idea. You have the connections to make great things happen, and Kansas Tourism has many resources available to help turn big dreams into reality.

In the words of one of our City Commissioners, “What’s that thing you think we could never do here?” and I thought of an “impossible” dream I have for our community.

Then she said, “Now go do it.”

I look forward to hearing about YOUR community’s next big thing.

To the Stars Y’all,


Kansas Tourism Conference

KTC 2023 Registration Open!

Paul Long video

Join us in Dodge City, October 16-18, 2023

Are you ready to have some F.U.N.? Paul Long is! Join us in Dodge City this October for the Kansas tourism industry's "don't miss" conference of the year. Enjoy inspiring speakers, valuable educational information, and fun networking opportunities.

Kansas has so many things to celebrate this year and we can't wait for you to be a part of the fun!

Register here!

Marketing Awards

Share your marketing genius in the 2023 TIAK Marketing Awards. Enter one submission per category in your budget group: Community Awareness, Event, Print, Online Media, and Visitor Guide. The deadline of August 4th will be here before you know it!

View last year's award winners here.

Submit today!

Sponsorship Opportunities

Highlight and promote what you have to offer the travel and tourism community: introduce a new product, or remind everyone of a great location, piece of merchandise, or service you are famous for. There are options to fit every budget. Click here for more information on #KTC23 sponsorship opportunities.

A BIG thank you to all our generous sponsors to date!


TIAK Educational Seminar Highlights

The TIAK Educational Seminar on iPhone photography made quite a flash in Lindsborg! Attendees learned skills to enhance their visual discovery and become better storytellers through their iPhones with the guidance of National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson.

Ellsworth County Art Contest: Through July 28, 2023

In honor of National Travel and Tourism Week, Explore Ellsworth County is hosting a statewide art contest. Help them spread the word! Read more. Submissions are due Friday, July 28th.

Click here to register

Kansas News

Marketing effort planned to win back former Kansans

The Sunflower State Journal reported, "As the state's population stagnates and people are packing up for Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and elsewhere, Kansas is determined to lure back the population it's losing with a new marketing campaign. The Legislature this year approved $2 million for a campaign aimed at bringing expats back to Kansas, which lost about 7,400 people because of domestic migration from 2021 to 2022, according to census data." Read more.

KDOT IKE Meetings

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is hosting eight in-person Local Consult meetings across the state and one virtual meeting this fall for the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE). Local Consult is KDOT’s public engagement process for the IKE program and is a two-year rolling program that gives KDOT a forum to listen to regional needs from Kansans who live and work in each of KDOT’s six districts and two metro areas. Participants will have the opportunity to share their region’s transportation priorities, hear about investments being made in transportation in their area, and learn about the various grant funding programs available through KDOT. View the Local Consult meetings schedule.

Kansas Submits Grant Proposal for Less Expensive Heartland Flyer Rail Project

"Kansas is taking a significant step toward expanding Amtrak service, officially submitting a proposal to get in line for funding for a proposed rail route from Oklahoma City to Newton. The state - along with Oklahoma - recently applied to the Federal Railroad Administration to get the Heartland Flyer extension added to a pipeline of national rail projects" according to the Sunflower State Journal. Read more.

WaKeeney Selected as Newest Kansas Main Street Community

Governor Laura Kelly visited WaKeeney to announce its selection as the latest community to the Kansas Main Street program, a Kansas Department of Commerce initiative to preserve and revitalize downtown districts across the state. This brings the total number of Designated Main Street communities in Kansas to 36.

"We are excited for the selection of WaKeeney to the Main Street Program," Trego County Chamber of Commerce President Max Dirks said. "A lot of people put a lot of hard work into the application process, and we are looking forward to seeing the fruits of this labor in WaKeeney's future." Read more.

Kansas Launches Broadband Speed Test and Comprehensive Expansion Plan

The Kansas Office of Broadband Development is developing a comprehensive strategic plan to expand broadband infrastructure statewide and ensure every Kansan has access to reliable high-speed internet. To assist in this and provide accurate data for the plan, the department is calling on residents to participate in an important online speed test and survey. Read more.

Kansas Triples Projected Sports Gambling Revenue

The Hawver Capitol Report noted, "The state government has tripled its projected share of sports gambling revenue, according to a Kansas Lottery report. With a month to go in Fiscal Year 2023, Kansas has received $5.4 million from September to May through its 10% cut of sports betting revenue. Officials initially estimated wagers could generate $1.8 million for the state this fiscal year." View the report.

Governor Kelly Announces 14 Rural Communities Receiving Funding for New Murals

Governor Laura Kelly announced 14 communities will receive funding through the Office of Rural Prosperity's Rural Mural and Public Art grant program. The $76,071 in grants awarded will allow communities to create 38 new murals and public art projects that engage community residents and create a place for the community to gather and enjoy. Since 2021, the Office of Rural Prosperity has funded more than 43 murals in 25 communities. Read more.

The organizations awarded for FY 2024 include:

  • The Arts Center, Inc.; Anthony and Attica; $7,500 
  • City of Cedar Vale; $1,500 
  • City of Cheney; $3,603 
  • Fort Scott Area Chamber Foundation; $5,250 
  • Northwest Kansas Technical College; Goodland; $4,250 
  • 5.4.7 Arts Center; Greensburg; $7,368 
  • Graham County; Hill City; $7,500 
  • Wichita County Economic Development, Inc.; Leoti; $4,500 
  • Vesper Community Club, Inc.; Vesper Township; $7,500 
  • City of Lyons; $7,500 
  • The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation; Blue Rapids Community Action Team Fund, Blue Rapids; $2,350 
  • City of Smith Center; $7,500 
  • City of Uniontown; $2,250 
  • Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Winfield; $7,500  

Commerce Department, Patterson Family Foundation Launch Community Art Pilot Program

The Kansas Department of Commerce and the Patterson Family Foundation announced the Engaging Placemaking for Innovative Communities (EPIC) pilot program. With a focus on arts-driven community development projects that enhance rural communities and enable additional partnership and connection, EPIC is launching in south-central Kansas under the leadership of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC).

EPIC is designed to strengthen regional connections between community leaders, artists and arts organizations for unexpected and innovative projects that address community challenges. By strategically harnessing resources and increasing partnerships, communities can hone their unique identities to become more competitive as families choose where to put down their roots and do business. Read more.

New Secretary of Transportation Appointed

Calvin Reed has been appointed by Governor Laura Kelly as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). Reed has served as acting secretary since the departure of former Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz in December 2022. Read more.

Travel and Tourism

Get the app!

Sunflower Summer provides a wide variety of ways for families to get out, explore something new, and enjoy time together May 26-August 13. Read more.

Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame Call for Nominees

The Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame Committee requests nominations of living or deceased individuals for consideration for induction into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Any organization or individual may nominate a qualified person for consideration. Nomination forms may be requested through the Boot Hill Museum, Inc., in Dodge City or completed online. Forms must be received by August 15, 2023. Read more.


Summer Travel Demand

According to U.S. Travel, "This summer, air travel demand is expected to be the strongest since pre-pandemic, and potentially the strongest ever but normalizing trends are visible and the focus on growth must remain intentional." Read more.

May 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:

Monthly and YTD Comparisons

Kansas had 62% property participation and 77% hotel room participation in May.

The U.S. Travel Association published its latest Monthly Data Report, exclusively for U.S. Travel members. Here are key highlights from last month's report.

Key May Highlights

  • Barely remaining in positive territory, travel spending was on par with 2022 levels in April, receding slightly from the first quarter of the year.
  • Air travel demand remains strong compared to last year and was up 10% in April compared to the same month last year yet was even with 2019 levels.
  • Hotel demand receded for the second consecutive month and was 2% below 2019 and 1% below 2022 levels in April.
  • Overseas arrivals also receded a bit in April and were still 27% below 2019 levels.




Tourism Huddle

Second Wednesday of each month

July 12

Kansas Tourism Conference

October 16-18 - Dodge City

TIAK Board Meetings

August 10, October 16, December 14

TIAK Executive Committee Meetings

July 13, September 14, November 9