By Associated Press - Monday, January 25, 2021

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday proposed moving the state’s tourism division into the Department of Commerce, in an effort to boost an economy that has suffered a downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tourism division is currently part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

The Travel Industry Association of Kansas, the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association and the Kansas Economic Development Alliance all support the move’s potential to promote tourism as an economic development tool, Kelly said in a news release.

“Consolidating our Tourism focus within the Department of Commerce sends a clear message to our industry partners and prospective companies that this administration will use every tool at our disposal to spur new economic development,” Kelly said.

The plan would take effect July 1 unless the Kansas Legislature opposes it.

Adam Mills, president of the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association, said his group will be helped by the changes.

“At a time when hospitality needs every reform possible, this reorganization will reposition us as we grow out of the recent strains of the pandemic,” Mills said in a statement.

Jim Zaleski, president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas, said it’s the right time to make the change.

“Kansas Tourism and the Department of Commerce have a shared goal of bringing revenue into the state,” Zaleski said. “A coordinated marketing effort will help establish and promote a consistent, strong state brand and a single “front door” to Kansas.”

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