Did you know that tourism is the second largest industry in the state of Missouri? It’s second only to agriculture. This fact was the first one I learned when I joined the City of Columbia’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, or CVB, as a sales manager in 2007.
A lot has changed since then, including my role – I’m now the director of the CVB. But tourism is still holding strong as the second largest industry in Missouri. It may never catch up with agriculture, but the importance of tourism to our state and our community should not be understated.
This is the first of three articles that I will write for COMO explaining why tourism is important to Columbia and Boone County.
Here are a few of the questions I’ll answer. What does tourism bring to the economy? How does it affect your business and the quality of life in our community? What part does the CVB play in the success of Columbia as a tourism destination? What part does the community play in the success of Columbia as a tourism destination?
There is a lot to discuss, but before we go any further, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Working in tourism is fun! Plain and simple, there are a lot of great things going on in Columbia and we have the opportunity to share this information to potential visitors throughout the state, region, and country. We have the best jobs in this city, hands down!
I’ll get into how we do our jobs in my next two articles, but for now, I want to tell you why we work to promote tourism.
For starters, the numbers don’t lie about the impact tourism has on our economy.
Tourism in Missouri generated a $17.2 billion impact in the state’s fiscal year last year, FY2018. This economic impact is based upon the spending of an estimated 42 million visitors. Tourism-related industries in FY2018 also provided 301,789 jobs in Missouri.
Bringing it to the local level, Boone County saw tourism expenditures exceeding $412 million dollars in FY2018, which supported over 11,000 jobs.
So yes, as shown by those numbers, tourism is big business. But the dollar signs don’t show the whole picture. For every tourism dollar spent, it has a ripple effect throughout our local economy, either directly or indirectly, and everyone who lives and works in the community benefits.
When visitors come to Columbia to attend festivals, conferences, sporting events, or just to spend some time with friends or family, their spending supports local businesses and local jobs, funds that couldn’t come from anywhere else. Taking it a step further, the sales taxes paid on those purchases go back into our city services, maintaining the quality of life for our residents every day of the year.
Now, let’s really dig down into this ripple effect. Think of a local hotel. When that hotel is fully booked for a conference, wedding, festival weekend, or football game, the hotel has to purchase more food, more beverages, more cleaning supplies, and schedule more staff to cover the demand of increased visitors. The people who work for that hotel and the businesses that supply the hotel with what it needs go out and spend their earnings right here in COMO, providing yet another way that tourism benefits our community.
Also, when a community has a positive perception as a destination, people are more likely to relocate there, start a business there, attend a higher education institution there, or retire there. Those decisions all start with a visit, and the visit starts with us. I’ll tell you more about how we do promote tourism next month.
Amy is the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the City of Columbia.