Celebrating business: Tonganoxie organization honors its members, hears from state tourism director at banquet
There is some encouraging news for Kansas tourism, but the state’s new director of tourism also hopes that the industry can become more of a priority in Topeka.
Bridgette Jobe served as keynote speaker Feb. 18 at Deer Ridge Estate for this year’s Tonganoxie Business Association Appreciation Banquet.
Jobe said that visitor spending in the state has increased nine consecutive years. That’s good news, she said, but she also hopes the state’s tourism budget can move upward as well.
Kansas currently ranks second to last in state’s reporting their tourism budgets. Kansas is 27th, while Delaware is 28th.
Jobe grew up in Kansas City, Kan., and still lives there. She worked 21 years at the Kansas City Kansas Convention & Visitors Bureau, including 14 as executive director.
She talked about tourism at the state level and then offered some advice to TBA members. She said signage always is important, whether it’s the brown signs on Kansas highways denoting specific landmarks or state attractions, or additional signage in the community and so forth.
Jobe said the community should promote interesting things it has going for it and “don’t change who you are.”
She noted that the Myers Hotel Bar could be a destination spot because of some coverage in travel publications and the like. She also said the “mystery beer machine” at Ryan’s Public House sounded like something tourists could find interesting, for example.
The tourism director also talked about working with visitors, including the situation of Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan. She said that we can still promote attractions on the Kansas side of the metro and educate visitors about them even if an attraction isn’t right next to Sprint Center or Arrowhead Stadium.
“They don’t care about state lines, they don’t care about county lines, they don’t care about city limits,” Jobe said about tourists and visitors to our area. “They are willing to travel and go different places.”
After Jobe’s keynote speech came announcement of award winners for 2020.
Ferrellgas was named large business of the year, while 1866 restaurant was named small business of the year. Ryan and Jamie Boden were this year’s entrepreneurs of the year, while White Birch Agency, Realty Executives KC, was new business of the year for 2020. Jennifer McCutchen was named volunteer of the year.