COLUMBIA - Tourists spent more money in Boone County last year than ever before. Tourism brought in almost $396 million for the 2015 fiscal year. That's a almost a $30 million increase from the 2014 fiscal year.
Megan McConachie, Marketing & Communications manager for Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau, said this is definitely the biggest jump the bureau has seen.
"We have been increasing year over year for many years," McConachie said. "The $396 million was even kind of a surprise to us."
McConachie said the money was spent at hotels, restaurants, shops, gas stations, and all of Columbia's local businesses. She said increase goes back to the community and supports jobs and supports businesses.
"I think it's really a testament to Columbia raising its profile as a destination and also, kind of, working as a community to bring people in throughout the year," she said.
McConachie said she wouldn't call the additional $30 million an outlier, but it is unusual. In years past, the bureau usually saw increases of $10 to $15 million.
It is hard to calculate the exact number of tourists who are coming to Columbia every year. But McConachie said it's been going up over the past five years.
She said the big draws include the University of Missouri, Faurot Field, the Mizzou Arena, the Missouri School of Journalism, The District, restaurants such as Shakespeare's Pizza, the parks and trails system, and unique events such as the annual True/False Film Fest.
McConachie said residents shouldn't worry about increased traffic or pollution.
"At this point, we are definitely not anywhere near capacity," she said. "Those big weekends, the Show Me State weekends, the football weekends, those are the times when you may wait in traffic a little bit longer, maybe wait at your favorite restaurant a little bit longer. but as far as tourism capacity or negative effects, they're really very very small."