Tourism was big for Dodge City and Ford County for 2016 as the Convention and Visitors Bureau announced the release of the 2016 tourism report by Tourism Economics.

The report was put together by Chris Pike, director of impact studies for Tourism Economics that was of the economic impact of tourism for Dodge City and Ford County.

According to the report, visitor spending increased $13.6 million with a total of $134 million on the year for 2016.

The spending is a total growth of visitor spending across categories such as lodging.

"Both city and county commissions have long supported the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the many other tourism partners in Dodge City and surrounding areas in their efforts to promote, support activities, and provide services and events to the visitors in our area," said CVB director Jan Stevens in a press release. "Reports as this, positively reinforce the efforts of the tourism community, and the collective partners who make tourism a vital part of our overall economic stimulus package, as well as adding to the quality of life for all citizens in Dodge City."

The report showed that lodging for Dodge City had a 20 percent increase reaching $24.2 million with visitor spending making Ford County the 8th largest county in the state for tourism sales with 2 percent for all of Kansas.

Revenues for state and local governments were $11.2 million with 1,102 jobs supported directly and 1,405 tourism jobs supported throughout the county.

According to Stevens, tourism is a major employer in Ford County with 5.9 percent (1 out of 16.8 jobs) of all jobs directly supported by visitor spending compared  with the state average of 4.7 percent of all jobs supported by visitor spending.

"In Dodge City, the travel industry as a whole contributes substantially to our city’s cultural and social well-being," Stevens said. "Every citizen benefits from travel and tourism.

"The travel industry significantly enhances our personal growth and education, while promoting intercultural understanding and appreciation of Dodge City’s history, geography and culture.

"These key indicators show that in Ford County, leaders in the community are supporting the importance and growth of tourism in Dodge City and throughout the county."

The Dodge City CVB continues to promote Dodge City as a destination for travelers on a global level, marketing internationally, and nationwide.

"We have dedicated more dollars to the overall marketing plan, and continue to promote through several media options," Stevens said. "We appreciate the community and all they do to support all tourism efforts by not only the CVB, but the attractions, hotels, restaurants and destination venues."

Stevens said that some of the key additions to Dodge City between 2015 and 2016 is what led to the increase.

Long Branch Lagoon opened in May and the Boot Hill Distillery opened in July along with Guymon Petro Bar and Grill.

"United Wireless Area was host to 2 KSSHA tournaments in February of that year, and they scheduled the Beach Boys, Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy, Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride and other big names in Dodge City, increasing visitors to Dodge City for those exciting events," Stevens said. "We had some very unique groups make Dodge City part of their Rally plans, the Dodge Daytona group in the summer of 2016, and the Cannonball Motorcycle Rally in September.

"We experienced a nice conference uptick, as Dodge City hosted the Great Western Cattle Trail Association, Sheriff Association, and a few other larger conferences."

Sports also brought in the first annual 6-man football tournament at Memorial Stadium, the Wild West Bowl, the Pro-Am at Mariah Hills Golf Course and the Symetra Golf tournament.

"The CVB introduced our inaugural "Bounty Bird" hunting contest," Stevens said, "to run along with the multi-county ‘Rooster Roundup’ pheasant hunting contest, that brought more overnight guests to Dodge City during the last few months of the year.

"Overall, we had a great ‘Tourism’ Year.

"All these things an much more led to the wonderful year we saw in 2016."

Communities are provided the report per the communities request and the Ford County report was made possible with a partnership with the CVB and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com