|By Kevin Collison, The Kansas City Star,
Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 27, 2012--Metropolitan hotels sold a record 6.6 million room-nights last year while local attractions posted solid attendance gains, a new report finds.
The Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association says that's evidence the local tourism industry is rebounding from the recession.
The association reported this week that area hotels' demand and revenue had grown, year over year, for 22 straight months. The 6.6 million-room figure for 2011 tops the previous high of 6.4 million rooms sold in 2008, according to data compiled for the organization by Smith Travel Research.
"Our tourism industry continues to recover from the downturn," said Rich Hughes, president and CEO of the association.
"With more conventions on tap this year and the national spotlight on Kansas City for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, we look forward to an exciting 2012."
Though convention business actually dropped last year in Kansas City, Hughes said convention-related room bookings accounted for only about 4 percent of the overall hotel demand in the area. And the association has scheduled 21 citywide conventions and 200 total meetings this year compared with 17 conventions and 204 meetings in 2011.
The association added that the pace of bookings increased in December, with 46 conventions scheduled last month for future years. They are expected to generate more than 85,000 hotel room nights with an estimated economic impact of nearly $60 million.
Hotels also reported making more money, with revenue up 5.2 percent to $540 million. The average daily hotel rate for 2011 was $81.92, up 1.8 percent from the year before. Hotel occupancy was up 3.6 percent for the year to 56.9 percent.
The association also reported that museums and attractions reported their 2011 attendance increased 5 percent to 10 percent, compared with 2010. Passenger traffic at Kansas City International Airport also was up 2.5 percent last year to 10.2 million passengers.
A new branding campaign is to be announced later this winter geared toward this summer's All-Star Game. Although it might be difficult to get a ticket to the game, a "fan-fest" event is planned for the Bartle Hall Convention Center.
The association board also added nine new directors this week, including six mayoral appointees: Arzelia Gates, Debra Jenkins, Riccardo Lucas, Bradley McCormack, CiCi Rojas and Amy Jordan Wooden. Three were named by the board: Vic Allred, Rachel Hack and Steve Shalit.
Troy Stremming, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs at Ameristar Casinos, was re-elected chairman. The vice chair is Gayle Holliday of G&H Consulting LLC, and Bob Sullivan, chief marketing officer at Boulevard Brewing, is treasurer.
To reach Kevin Collison, development reporter, call 816-234-4289 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @kckansascity.
(c)2012 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
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