Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has established a steering committee to help make his vision of a ecotourism industry for Kansas a reality. The Governor announced the creation of the committee during a news conference at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita last week.
"One of my priorities is to boost ecotourism to get Kansans outdoors and to attract visitors from around the U.S. and the world," Brownback said. "There are many outstanding natural features in Kansas that are showcases for our state. This steering committee will help provide direction and guidance on ecotourism issues as well as recommend objectives, marketing strategies, and policies to grow this important industry in Kansas."
Based on jobs, tourism overall is the third-largest industry in Kansas, and has a total economic impact of more than $5.4 billion. In 2011, more than 790,000 people participated in wildlife-watching activities in Kansas, and made more than $208 million in trip-related purchases.
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Secretary Robin Jennison will spearhead the 16-member committee who have varied experience, interest and expertise in ecotourism-related programs and activities.
"I look forward to working with this outstanding group of individuals to advance ecotourism in Kansas. They represent a wide variety of interests and backgrounds, so I am sure they will bring a lot of good ideas to the table," Sec. Jennison said.
Ecotourism, also known as nature-based tourism, brings together conservation, travel, and communities to encourage travelers to explore the wonders of the outdoors in Kansas. Ecotourism encompasses hiking, biking, camping, wildflower walks, wildlife watching, river floating, visiting unique landscapes and many other outdoor activities.
The Ecotourism Steering Committee is an outgrowth of the Governor's Ecotourism Summit held in April at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center near Great Bend.