Archive for Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lawrence visitor spending in 2009 down 14 percent

Shoppers browse along Massachusetts Street.

Shoppers browse along Massachusetts Street.

March 4, 2010


Lawrence tourism taking a hit

Local tourism numbers have dropped along with the economy. The amount of revenue brought in has fallen behind where Lawrence was a year ago. Enlarge video

Count Lawrence’s tourism industry as one that has felt the sting of a down economy.

Total visitor spending fell by nearly 14 percent in 2009, according to new numbers from the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“It has been tough on everybody,” said Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence CVB. “It is tough on the hotels, and that trickles down to food and beverage and retailers. It is impacting everybody across the board.”

A total of 739,000 visitors spent $49.5 million in the Lawrence economy in 2009, the CVB estimates. The numbers are derived from a formula that looks at the total amount of transient guest tax dollars — a special sales tax on hotel rooms — collected by the city.

The 2009 numbers were down 13.7 percent from 2008. The decline marked the end of a multi-year period of increases, capped by a 14-percent increase in 2008 when the city saw heavy visitor activity related to Kansas University’s national championship in basketball.

“Our numbers had been steadily climbing over the last four or five years, and now they are taking a big dip,” Billings said. “But I saw that in 2001 and I saw it in the Gulf War. We’ve seen dips before, but we’ve recovered before.”

Tourism leaders said 2010 likely won’t be the year the industry begins to rebound in Lawrence.

“I don’t feel the bounce back yet,” said Constance Wolfe, an owner of the Halcyon House bed and breakfast and a member of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board. “I’m not even optimistic about that to be honest. I’m not pessimistic, but I just don’t feel this will be the year that we bounce back.”

Other numbers from the report included:

• The number of conventions and meetings in Lawrence fell to 179, down from 193 in 2008. Total attendees at local conventions fell to 12,337 from 13,200.

• Approximately 8,000 guests registered at the Lawrence Visitor Information Center in North Lawrence, with 41 percent from out-of-state.

• The newly created Visit Lawrence Facebook page attracted 300 fans, and approximately 200 followers on Twitter.


Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 7 years, 6 months ago

Not surprising when you look at some of the prices charged at downtown shops. The other day we went shopping downtown, and we were amazed at the prices. We couldn't afford to pay the $ 20 for a baseball cap. Prices at two more stores were equally ridiculous. Doesn't surprise me that it dropped 14%. If you had said it dropped 30% that would not have surprised me either. I expect wealthy visitors to the city pay these prices, I won't. Thank you, Lynn

Steve Miller 7 years, 6 months ago

They probably don't like extended road construction either,, think about it.

bblbfolks 7 years, 6 months ago

Tourism? In Lawrence? Really? I guess you are counting the college sports teams that don't have much of a choice in the matter. Otherwise what inthe world is there to attract people to your little Podunk of a town?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Look according to radio news on Thursday 15 million in the USA are out of work.

If the USA does not bring the troops home this economy will be screwed for a longer period of time.

That needless military action is killing this economy in addition to the republican led financial scandals.

This war is costing as we speak several trillion dollars due to the heavy load of disabled soldiers coming home. We cannot afford the war.

We cannot afford the private army that Bush/Cheney brought on board. Over 100,000 mercenaries at about $3,000 per day. Have we lost out ability to think?

Radio news is not optimistic about the future of this economy because no new industry has been created to speak of in the last 30 years.

30 years ago is when Reagnanomics began sending OUR jobs abroad. Millions more are slated for INDIA.

Where is the outrage?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

This kind of thinking certainly will not create new economic growth only more economic displacement which in essence = negative economic growth.

"Commissioner Lance Johnson said. “The reality is more multi-family can be built on this property today. The developers have done more than what is required by code. To me, it is a very attractive proposal.”

Johnson was joined by Mayor Rob Chestnut in supporting the rezoning request. Chestnut said he did not want the decision to hinge on whether Lawrence’s market could absorb more apartments.

“I don’t know their target market and those issues,” Chestnut said. “If we get into trying to figure that out with every request, I believe our long-term planning will become very unpredictable.”

Mismanaged economics and flooded markets are unfriendly to business!

Uhjh 7 years, 6 months ago

Overpriced goods, overpriced food, overpriced rent – duh! Many good businesses have left. Maybe the introduction of gambling and gentleman clubs would bring in the out-of-towners wanted for the bucks. Face the fact downtown is an entertainment district not retail sales.

think_about_it 7 years, 6 months ago

I think we should raise the sales tax to make up the difference.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Face it nothing out west can compare to the downtown ambiance. Nothing!

The shopping out west is surrounded with stiff competition from KCMO metro. More selection and far better sales and pricing. I say trying to steal that market is economic suicide.

Downtown Lawrence has the image as a fun place for families to shop and hang out. Filliing downtown with bars instead of places to shop will not be doing the local cookie jars any favors on the long term.

Why the concerted effort to center our economy so much on alcohol abuse? This is no longer seen as acceptable considering all of the health problems with alcoholism and the recent deaths on campus... it simply is the wrong effort to promote. Parents truly do not want their children inundated with opportunities to consume alcohol 24/7. Lawrence is going backwards.

classof75 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree with Toe: Maybe they should quit scheduling KU sporting events in KC.

mrtopeka 7 years, 6 months ago

Maybe it has to do with the HUGE increase in parking downtown.

mrtopeka 7 years, 6 months ago

Maybe it has to do with the HUGE increase in parking downtown.

jfcm77 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree with CW -- let's burn that stupid picture! Just in time for the Mizzou game tomorrow.

I agree with Barry (excerpted) Penders -- "live unprecedented" -- that sounds like an awesome motto for life.

ConcernedCynic 7 years, 6 months ago

I was waiting for the "It's Lews Fault" guys did not disappoint . Somehow all y'all find a way to blame everything on Lew or KU Athletics (no, I do not work for KAI). Thanks for your simplistic view of the world, it is entertaining.

Chad Collins 7 years, 6 months ago picture much? This has been recycled 100 times. On the eve of the MU game too.....shame on you LJWorld.

whats_going_on 7 years, 6 months ago

merrill where in the H*LL do you pull this stuff from. No one is talking about the freaking troops and I doubt they have much to do with the economy in our little town. good lord.

Kat Christian 7 years, 6 months ago

Well DUH = recession, no pay raises and all the retail stores seemed to be closing that all is left are the bars, fast food restarunts and parking fees are up and on Saturdays. So I don't think downtown Lawrence has been encouraging much out of town shopping at this rate.

Kat Christian 7 years, 6 months ago

Well DUH = recession, no pay raises and all the retail stores seemed to be closing that all is left are the bars, fast food restarunts and parking fees are up and on Saturdays. So I don't think downtown Lawrence has been encouraging much out of town shopping at this rate.

Kat Christian 7 years, 6 months ago

Well DUH = recession, no pay raises and all the retail stores seemed to be closing that all is left are the bars, fast food restarunts and parking fees are up and on Saturdays. So I don't think downtown Lawrence has been encouraging much out of town shopping at this rate.

Kat Christian 7 years, 6 months ago

Well DUH = recession, no pay raises and all the retail stores seemed to be closing that all is left are the bars, fast food restarunts and parking fees are up and on Saturdays. So I don't think downtown Lawrence has been encouraging much out of town shopping at this rate.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Taxpayers in Lawrence, Kansas will pay $209.9 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

*67,135 People with Health Care for One Year OR

*4,973 Public Safety Officers for One year OR

*4,572 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR

*34,118 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR

*37,825 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR

*2,522 Affordable Housing Units OR

*121,048 Children with Health Care for One Year OR

  • 34,739 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR

  • 4,515 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR

*216,117 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Judy Billings you have done an above average job. But never assume all will recover anytime soon without a bit more effort to draw people to Lawrence. More bars are certainly not the key.

What the hell is going on? Make millions from existing resources.

Bike competition is doing its’job… hats off. Did not need new roads or buildings for that.

The sidewalk sale is such a great opportunity for Lawrence. I say let's change it a bit into a full blown carnival. After all with home games being outsourced here's an opportunity to make up some revenue loss with a fun activity.

Let's reorganize a little = make it crazier and even more fun when schools are in session thus more buyers/participants. Schedule these events on game days

Block off Mass between 7th and 10th.

Have musicians play from 11 AM til ?

Invite local nurseries, local farmers and artists to set up in the street.

Bring on the local food and brew vendors as well!

Invite the artists to set up shop.

DO two sidewalk sales: The 3rd Saturday in March hopefully a basketball day = more fun for fans more revenue for Lawrence

The second Saturday in October hopefully a football day = more fun for fans more revenue for Lawrence

Why two at those dates: KU and public school are in session = more people available locally and from surrounding communities ( folks are back from vacations).

Have items inside the stores marked down some as well. Make the whole shopping visit worth while.

Start planning for October ..... make it on a game day = even more fun for sports fans.

Again after all with home games being outsourced here's an opportunity to make up the revenue loss.

Lets’ also have a couple of major art fairs downtown with all of the trimmings over and above Art in the Park

SpunKey 7 years, 6 months ago

KU is the only real tourist attraction in Lawrence. So yes, Lew and his Crew are linked in this story. If it wasn't for them, Lawrence would really be SOL. Sports and acedemic conferences are key to Lawrence economy.

Who do you think can afford to rent the hotel rooms, buy the trendy (over-priced) goods and eat, drink and let the money flow? Regional tourist, not locals.

Kansas is not a national entertainment mecca. KU keeps Lawrence from being just another green sign crawling by all too slowly on the forever drive along I70 between the Mississippi river and colorado Mountains.

olmsted78 7 years, 6 months ago

they're trying to portray "visitors" in the photo. MU shirt, KC hat, UI-C shirt & student visiting with parents, guy paying parking meter.... Wait, no, that's just a resident going to get a haircut.

awl 7 years, 6 months ago

Why would anyone want to go downtown to shop? The retail is really awful. Many of the stores (with the exception of a few) have had the same items for years. I really dislike shopping downtown, but, I enjoy the restaurants and bars more. I would hope that people wanting to open up a store downtown should really think about the clientele and cater to them instead of putting random stores....really do we need a store of only baseball caps? really?

Raider 7 years, 6 months ago

I've said this a hundred times before, but I'll repeat it again. Bring in a men's clothing store downtown where a guy over the age of 25 and under the age of 60 can find something decent to wear. Also, bring in a shoe store that doesn't try to rehash the same old things season after season, and try to say they're the 'new arrivals'. (Yes, I'm talking about about one downtown that did not go out of business).

There is not a single place in town where men ages 25-60 can find decent clothing and shoes. Kohl's and JCPenney are ok for basics, but you certainly don't want to fill your entire closet from there. Don't even get me started on trying to find a decent pair of shoes for men in this town. I've seen the same styles in these stores (both local and national) for the past 3 years. It's ridiculous.

There's no wonder people are spending less and less in Lawrence. Combine the poor economy with the lack of decent selection in Lawrence, and that equals less revenue. I've gotten to where I go to Legends because I can find more selection at a reasonable price. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

imastinker 7 years, 6 months ago

I quit going to Lawrence for Shopping for most things. Leavenworth, Topeka, and Kansas City are farther away - but they take less time to get into and out of. A trip to Walmart for anyone north of town is 20 minutes after you enter city limits. In leavenworth it's right on the edge of town. Home depot is the same.

jfcm77 7 years, 6 months ago

I've given this some thought -- everyone here is just mad that the rich out-of-state college kids are the only people who can (attractively) fit into the clothes at Urban Outfitters.

gweezy 7 years, 6 months ago

"Downtown" Lawrence is horrible. It's only one street and is only made for people who live there that support local mom and pop shops. People who come from out of town want good dining and to shop at "real" stores which Mass. only has a few well known name stores. Many people who live there even go to KC to shop/dine. It's the same reason the so-called mall perished. So this is no big surprise.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

"Want to know where a great place to invest in real estate will be five or 10 years from now? Look at where artists are living now."

"Sociologists and policymakers have long been touting art and culture as the cure-all to economically depressed neighborhoods, cities, and regions. The reason? It has been proven that artists—defined as self-employed visual artists, actors, musicians, writers, etc.—can stimulate local economies in a number of ways.

Artists are often an early sign of neighborhood gentrification. 'Artists are the advance guard of what's hip and cool,' says Bert Sperling, founder and president of Portland (Ore.)-based Sperling's Best Places and compiler of's list of the Best Places for Artists in America."

Leading the list of cities is Los Angeles, with over 56 artistic establishments for every 100,000 people, and a young and diverse population. Other stalwarts like New York and San Francisco make the top ten, along with art meccas like Santa Fe, New Mexico. Carson City, Nevada, and Kingston, New York also make the list."

Include artists in all fun events!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Creativity Leads to Growth

Artists, because of their typically lower incomes, usually need to seek out less expensive, developing neighborhoods where they can afford the rent. But because of their creativity they are able to fix up these areas, eventually attracting hip boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Not all artists are starving. While some are able to achieve success writing, acting, painting, or dancing, others get tired of scraping by as waiters or bartenders and sometimes apply their abilities in more entrepreneurial ways.

Anne Markusen, an economist and professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and a leading researcher on the effects of the arts on regional economics, once profiled an abstract painter whose work is now displayed on ceilings and in MRI machines in hospitals across the country. In Markusen's research, artists have also been found to stimulate innovation on the part of their suppliers. A painter may need a certain type of frame that is not manufactured, forcing the frame maker to create a new design that happens to also work well for other artists.

But Markusen also maintains that artists bring more than culture to a community. "Businesses don't often understand the extent to which art affects them," Markusen says. "[Artists] are just as important as science and technology companies."

Nonarts businesses also use artist contractors to improve product design, help with marketing, or even use dramatic theory to solve employee relationship issues. Being a cultural center also helps local businesses attract employees who want to be able to regularly go to the ballet or the theater, hear authors read from their latest books, or attend art gallery openings.

Business Week

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Follow the Money

Due to the individual nature and economics of their work, artists are also some of the most itinerant professionals out there. When relocating, they often look for cities and towns that already have high concentrations of artists and a young, racially and ethnically diverse population. The presence of a nurturing art community in the form of art societies and centers is also essential, especially to young artists.

A low cost of living is important, but many artists make financial sacrifices to live near an art-rich urban center or live in a cheaper neighborhood. Few struggling artists can afford to live in neighborhoods like New York's SoHo and Greenwich Village, or even Williamsburg, which once were artistic havens before attracting wealthier residents. Now you are more likely to find New York-based artists in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or even Philadelphia.

In addition to the presence of like-minded individuals, proximity to wealth is also important. The fact of the matter is that artists can seldom earn a living, let alone become rich, selling to other artists. They need wealthy benefactors to buy their paintings or support their local symphony, which explains why each of the places in the U.S. that we found to be the best for artists are in or located near centers of wealth. Los Angeles, No. 1 on our list, is most commonly associated with the film industry. While the city provides great opportunities for actors and directors, there are equally rich prospects for musicians, artists, writers, and dancers. Of course, the majority of these people can't afford to live in Beverly Hills—at least not until they get their big break—and instead opt for more affordable digs in areas like Echo Park.

Business Week

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Where to Go Now

p> and Sperling's Best Places came up with a list of the best places for artists in the U.S. by identifying the metro areas that have the highest concentrations of artistic establishments. We also looked at the percentage of young people age 25 to 34, population diversity, and concentration of museums, philharmonic orchestras, dance companies, theater troupes, library resources, and college arts programs. Lower cost of living played a part in the selection of some cities but had to be overlooked in others because of other very favorable factors.

Some of the top ten are traditional art "super cities"—one of the reasons Los Angeles leads the list is because it has 56 artistic establishments for every 100,000 people, a diversity index of 84.2, and an arts and culture index of 100 (on a scale of 1 to 100). New York City and San Francisco are also in the top ten. Other places are midsize cities, like hippie havens Santa Fe and Boulder, and country-music nucleus Nashville. Smaller, less-obvious additions include Carson City, Nev., which ranks third for its high concentration of art establishments, and the city of Kingston in New York's Hudson River Valley.

Ready to quit your day job and make art your profession? These metro areas are good places to start. And with all the economic benefits you'll be providing, they should welcome you with open arms. "

Business Week

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

On a recent afternoon along Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, young aspiring actors recited passages from Shakespeare's Henry V as jugglers, break-dancers, and blowers of didgeridoos displayed their skills nearby, creating a visual and aural cacophony. Just another day in a thriving college town -- this one happening to be home to the University of Vermont.

There are notable distinctions between college towns and other American cities.

In the student-centric spots, bicycles seem to outnumber cars.

Affordable restaurants serve up authentic cuisines from all around the world. The streets are densely packed with businesses, making for a highly pedestrian-friendly environment.

Nature is usually accentuated. Beautifully landscaped downtowns are lovely attractions for students, parents and tourists especially when spring blooms burst.

Madison, Wisconsin, is situated on an isthmus between two lakes that draw hordes of hikers and bikers. Boulder, Colorado, is an outdoor enthusiast's dream.

Many schools benefit from world-class art collections in glittering facilities designed by marquee architects; Chapel Hill's Ackland Art Museum, featuring a wing by Polshek Partnership, tempts visitors with Warhols, Titians, and Dalís in a way that many university-less cities cannot.

The performing arts also abound. Most campuses host an array of dance, theater, and performing arts to rival a season at Lincoln Center. Not to mention rock. This fall, for instance, the Boulder Theater, near the University of Colorado, will host the Psychedelic Furs, Aimee Mann, and Dinosaur Jr.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.