Guest Column: Go ahead – brag about Kansas

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By Bridgette Jobe, Kansas Tourism Division

I believe one of the biggest assets that Kansas enjoys can also be its biggest detractor: our humility.
As Kansans, we can be too quick to accept without question the perception of our state the rest of the world shoves on us. We’ve allowed their ideas of who we are and what we have to offer for visitors to reverberate across our plains and nation. Sometimes we’ve added to the chorus.
May 1-7 is National Travel and Tourism Week and in honor of this celebration, I’m offering up a simple challenge to Kansans. Brag about your state.
There are plenty of reasons for boasting, even if the idea of it might shock our deeply humble nature.
We are the heart of the country in more than one sense. Kansans have changed history. From Bleeding Kansas, to Brown v. Board of Education, to Amelia Earhart, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gordon Parks, and Wyatt Earp. We have amazing stories to tell. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak them a little louder.
Visit the towering rock formations in western Kansas, the rolling and rocky landscapes of the Flint Hills, and the wooded and windy roads of the eastern glacial region. You’ll have plenty to share with anyone who thinks Kansas has only one kind of topography.
Bask in a Kansas sunset, appreciate a rolling field of wheat, or stand in awe at rows of sunflowers turning their faces to the sun. Stay at a state park abounding with wildlife, outdoor recreation, and gleaming water. Experience our jaw-dropping beauty for yourself. You’ll be armed with answers for anyone who questions the beauty and grandeur of a Kansas landscape.
Browse the events calendar at TravelKS.com. Take in the wealth of options for entertainment in arts, culture, food, athletics, history, nature, and much more. There’s plenty to satisfy everyone with any type of interest. You’ll have a ready response anytime someone has a misunderstanding that nothing happens here.
Learn about our rich heritage of diversity. Nicodemus is the only remaining Black settlement west of the Mississippi River. Kansas City’s Hispanic community is so vibrant they have a Taco Trail with over 50 local taquerias. Garden City has 26 languages spoken in their public school system. Topeka is home to the Equality House. Share the goodness of our people and the significance of our heritage to anyone who will listen.
Here’s the good news. A recent perception study commissioned by Kansas Tourism found at least 85 percent of Kansas residents are at least somewhat proud to be a Kansan. We already have pride. We shouldn’t be afraid to show it and share why.
And here’s another reason to share your pride: travel to Kansas benefits you in so many ways. It means a lower tax burden because annually 31.4 million visitors spend $5.4 billion in our state on lodging, transportation, retail, recreation, and food or beverage, even during the pandemic. Visitor spending directly supports 53,442 jobs making tourism the 12th largest industry in the state. Travel is vital for our economy.
So, I challenge you. Explore your home state. Rediscover its bountiful charms. Share it. Boast about it. The world is always listening.
Editor’s note: Bridgette Jobe is the Director of the Kansas Tourism Division at the Kansas Department of Commerce. Visit TravelKS.com and use #ToTheStarsKS to share your favorite travel adventures.