Visitors flock with excitement to Kansas’ iconic downtown attractions, including Kansas City Zoo and Kansas City History Museum, as the world’s largest population of visitors surges into the city for its fall foliage season.
The annual crowds are expected to exceed the 5 million mark in some cities this year, including St Louis and Minneapolis.
As a result, more than 100 museums and attractions are offering free admission to the city’s largest indoor shopping mall.
The city also has some of the largest museums in the world, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Museum of African Diasporas), the Kansas City Botanical Garden and the Kansas State Capitol.
“The downtown is a world-class city and the outdoor shopping mall is a testament to its cultural heritage and the city as a whole,” said Jay Gittes, the city council’s liaison to tourism.
The zoo and museum, which are operated by the Kansas Center for the Performing Arts (KCPCA), have the most visitors of any indoor mall in the US.
It was the second-largest indoor mall after the Los Angeles Convention Center.
“It’s a really exciting time for Kansas City,” Gitte said.
“I think it’s the start of a big resurgence.”
Visitors flock for fall foliage The city is seeing an influx of visitors.
According to data from research firm NPD Group, Kansas was one of only two states to see a decrease in the number of people in the city during the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.
The figures were taken by the city from the US Census Bureau’s monthly report, which includes information on people’s travel, lodging and other travel-related spending.
Kansas City is one of the most visited cities in the country, and a major attraction, with more than $4 billion in annual tourism spending, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of visitors to the zoo rose from just over 5,000 in 2015 to more than 10,000 this year.
“They’re seeing an increase in the size of the crowd, and the crowds are just so high right now,” Gitter said.
Kansas is not the only city experiencing an influx in visitors.
“We’ve had record crowds in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Denver, Washington, D.C.,” Gitter told the Associated Press.
“And we’re going to continue to see that, even though we’ve had fewer people coming in.”
Gitter added that the city also saw an increase during the summer months.
“People are getting out of their comfort zones,” he said.
But while some may think the trend will continue for the fall, it could be a short-lived one.
“What’s happening in the fall is that a lot of these cities have been having an influx [of visitors], and the same thing is happening in Kansas City, so it’s going to take a while to get the city back to normal,” Gittle said.
Cities around the world are facing a similar trend.
According a survey by the International Business Times, in the first half of this year over half of all US cities saw an influx, with Seattle, Minneapolis, and Cleveland also experiencing increases.
According the IBT report, in 2020 there were a total of 6.7 million visitors in the United States, a 4.6% increase from the same year a year earlier.
That is a dramatic rise, but Gitter sees a longer-term trend.
“There’s always going to be a decline in the numbers, but there will always be a surge,” he added.
“You just have to plan for it.”
For a more detailed look at the trend in Kansas, check out the AP article from December that shows a 20% drop in people visiting the city, a 30% drop during the spring, and more than a 25% drop from the previous summer.
More to come.