Volume 17, Issue 11 | November 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

Thank you to everyone that attended the 2021 Kansas Tourism Conference in Liberal LIVE! As we start to come out of our COVID downturn, it was wonderful to see so many first-timers there. This could not have happened without our great partner, Kansas Tourism, so a big thank you to Bridgette and her team.

For many of us, travel slows down as the weather cools. It gives us a time to catch our breath and plan for National Tourism Week in the spring.

For TIAK, however, this is our busy season. The Executive Board just finished another successful retreat, thanks to Susan Barnes and the Grand Central Hotel in Cottonwood Falls. We will be presenting our balanced budget and TIAK's 2022 legislative agenda to the full board soon. Read more.
Kansas Passes Vaccine Exemption Bill in Special Session

The Kansas Legislature was called back to Topeka last Monday for a one-day special session to respond to the federal vaccine mandates issued by the Biden administration.

After last-minute discussions with lawmakers, the business community, and the Governor’s office, the House and Senate bills considered last week were very different from the proposals forwarded by the Special Committee on Government Oversight earlier this month.

House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement by early evening. House Bill 2001 passed the House 77-34 and the Senate 24-11 just after 11:00 p.m.

Here’s what’s in the legislation that passed:
  • Employers who implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement based on federal orders must approve an employee’s waiver request based on medical or religious reasons.
  • The employer must grant the exemption without inquiring as to the sincerity of the request.
  • Kansans who are fired or quit for refusing to get vaccinated are eligible to collect unemployment insurance benefits.
  • An employee could file a complaint with the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) if their employer denied their exemption request or took punitive action against the employee.
  • KDOL must complete their investigation and issue a final order within 60 days of the filing of the complaint.
  • The Attorney General would impose civil penalties not to exceed $10,000 per violation for an employer with fewer than 100 employees or $50,000 for an employer with more than 100 employees.
  • The employer can reinstate the terminated employee with appropriate backpay to avoid such civil penalties.
  • All civil penalties collected will be remitted to the Unemployment Trust Fund.
  • There is no sunset date on these provisions.

Governor Kelly signed the bill into law on the following day.
Governor Laura Kelly Announces $3.5 Million in New Funding for Kansas Tourism Initiatives

Governor Laura Kelly announced earlier this month that Kansas has received $3.5 million in grant funding from the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to distribute to local partners across the state. These funds will accelerate travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation in the state.

“Kansas’ tourism industry is an economic driver for our state, which is why my administration relocated the State’s Tourism Division to the Department of Commerce last year,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “This $3.5 million will accelerate our efforts to boost travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation across Kansas – improving quality of life for Kansans and growing our economy along the way.”

Kansas will use these funds to inject immediate momentum into the Kansas tourism industry. The $3.5 million will be invested in four strategic areas:

  • $1.5 million for sub-grants to local communities or businesses in the development of new tourism attractions or to enhance existing attractions in the state;
  • $1.25 million for a strong statewide marketing campaign to increase out-of-state visitation;
  • $500,000 for regional video and photography-asset gathering to support state and local marketing efforts;
  • $250,000 for Kansas State Parks to develop glamping – “glamourous camping” – sites at various State Park locations.

TIAK Blog Post: 30 Ideas in 30 Minutes

Thanks to everyone for participating in the 30 ideas in 30 minutes session at the Kansas Tourism Conference! A lot of great ideas were shared, and a couple even won a prize! We’ve compiled them all, plus a few from the idea box. Please forgive any errors as it was quite a challenge jotting things down so quickly!

  1. Lucille, Mitchell County – In January, they visited the area schools and gave each 4th grader a copy of the Kansas Travel Guide. They also created a project page for classes to vote on their favorite “To the ________” for their class to post (in support of the To the Stars Kansas Day campaign).
  2. Holly, Lindsborg – Got a couple of grants during the pandemic, worked with the 4th graders outdoors to put a monarch garden along the trail in Lindsborg.
  3. Holly, Lindsborg – Half sheet of what the CVB is working on in the community went to all businesses to spread the word during the pandemic on how they were still promoting Lindsborg.
  4. Galena – Route 66, painted white stakes that separate the State line, then made a yellow brick road to let travelers know they were entering KS.
  5. Melissa, Hays – During shut down they designed a children’s placement/coloring activity sheet that promotes the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. 
  6. Sady, Dodge City – Boot Hill Conf Center – During the last 6 months, they marketed their conference center as “space friendly” for people to spread out. Maps, etc. no extra cost and booked five new pieces of business.
  7. Ally- Downtown Hays – Adding SNAP and double up food bucks to the Downtown Hays market helped attract new customers, support vendors, and serve low-income families.
  8. Susie, Concordia – Made pies on Sunday (personally) and invited people to come sit on the outdoor screened-in porch as people drove by and came to visit.
  9. Susie, Concordia – Visited cemeteries, documenting families, dates, etc. They are half done with those in their area.
  10. Christina, Great Bend – Giveaway – All grand prize winners are getting a free year subscription to KS Magazine.

October 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 63% property participation and 77% hotel room participation in October.


Tourism Huddle
December 8

Destination Statehouse
February 9, 2022

Destination Capitol Hill
April 6-7, Washington D.C.

TIAK Board Meetings
December 9, February 10, April 14, June 9, August 11, October 17, December 8

TIAK Committee Meetings
January 6, March 10, June 8, July 14, September 8, November 10