Tourism Brings Large Crowds, Big Dollars to Wichita

Tourism is a key economic engine in Wichita, employing more than 11,000 people and bringing in more than $700 million in revenue annually.

Laura Hill
On Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 06:00

Mom wants to see an opera. Dad has airplanes in mind. Junior’s heart is set on dinosaurs and Sis wants to shop. Where to go on a family vacation? It’s all in Wichita.

Tourism is a vital part of the city’s economy, generating $712 million-plus each year, employing more than 11,000 people and growing. Increasingly, visitors and meeting planners are discovering the breadth and quality of Wichita’s many attractions, hotels, restaurants and shopping.

A Full Itinerary

“We have so many interesting things here,” says Susie Santo, president and CEO of Go Wichita, the city’s convention and visitors bureau. “People are surprised to learn that we have more than 1,000 restaurants, 36 museums, great live theater and one of only 80 operas in the country. The Sedgwick County Zoo is the largest outdoor attraction in Kansas. And people love to shop and dine here. There’s a lot to do.”

Wichita is proud of its cultural attractions, which include Music Theatre of Wichita, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and Wichita Grand Opera, and the city's Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center. Besides the zoo, families enjoy Tanganyika Wildlife Park and Exploration Place, Sedgwick County's science and discovery center that is home to the state's largest digital dome theater and planetarium. A new $90,000 Boeing-sponsored educational center at the Kansas Aviation Museum, featuring flight simulators, a weather station, learning stations and a mock control tower, is also drawing a crowd.

Convention City

Wichita's many attractions and amenities have also made it a draw for state conventions and meetings for groups like the American Agri-Women, the Teaching Parents Association and others. The United States Bowling Congress will host its 2019 women's tournament in Wichita, an event that is expected to bring 30,000 bowlers and their families to town, and generate a $14 million impact on Wichita’s economy.



Laura Hill is a former reporter/columnist for the Tennessean and a contributor to Journal Communications publications since 1996.