I've been attending a tourism conference the past few days. Long before I worked in the museum business, I knew tourism was important - particularly to the small town where I live that, even though it's a town of less than 50,000 people, has two world-class attractions. The Cosmosphere, where I work, and the Underground Salt Museum both attract visitors from all over the world.
The Cosmosphere is the only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Kansas, and truly the most comprehensive space museum in the world. It has the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow and the second largest of American space artifacts, second only to the National Air and Space Museum. The Kansas Underground Salt Museum is the only one of its kind in the western hemisphere. You travel 650 feeet underground, ride through large caverns where salt has been mined, and visit a museum underground. So, you can see why people would come to visit Hutchinson.
At this state tourism conference, they reported numbers that surprised me, even though I already believed in the impact of tourism.
*If tourism didn't exist in Kansas, each household would pay $875 more in taxes in order to maintain the current level of services
*Tourism accounts for 3.9% of the Kansas Gross State Product, making it the 12th largest industry in the state
*Each visitor contributes $58 in tax receipts, $33 goes to state/local authorities
*The average spending per tourist in Kansas is $238
*1 out of 9 Kansas citizens owes his/her job to tourism
*every 200 visitors to Kansas creates a new job
*Tourism generated 27.4% of all state and local taxes in 2009
*39 visitors to Kansas pay for one Kansas public school student
I find all of this quite interesting. I knew the impact of tourism was huge, but some of these numbers are staggering. You can bet the numbers are impressive where you live, too.