Columba recognizes National Travel and Tourism Week

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COLUMBIA - Columbia celebrated National Travel and Tourism Week Tuesday with an event at Reynolds Alumni Center on the MU campus.

The event took place in the form of a breakfast, with speeches from Missouri Director of Tourism Dan Lennon, Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine and Columbia Visitors Bureau Director Amy Schneider.

The event highlighted the importance of Columbia tourism to elected officials, and highlight accomplishments and future projects.

CVB Marketing and Communications manager Megan McConachie said support for Columbia tourism has been steady among elected officials.

"We're fortunate to have really supportive representatives at both the state and the local level," McConachie said.

McConachie said the tourism industry plays a key role in the city's economy.

"Tourism is definitely very vital to Columbia's economy.," McConachie said. "There was over $395 million in visitor-related spending in fiscal year 2015, so that is a huge boost to our economy, and it also supports over 11,000 jobs in our area. All of those tourism related businesses like a hotel or a shop relies on visitors coming into our community."

McConachie said Columbia has become a more popular place to visit over the years.

"It's definitely become a more visible destination over the last few years," McConachie said. "We have of course the people coming in for football games and things like that, but also things like out great culinary scene and our parks and trails. Those are things that citizens as well as visitors can enjoy. It's kind of like a round-about cycle. Tourists come in, spend money while they're here, and then the sales tax that is spent on that gets to help people that live here year round."

McConachie said the city has a unique quality that helps set it apart from other places of similar size and population.

"Something that we talk about a lot is that Columbia has all of those big city amenities that you really appreciate from a destination, but it's still very welcoming and hospitable, so it feels very accessible to people," McConachie said. "That's something that you can't get in a lot of places, so it's both sides of the spectrum."

McConachie said one of the next major tourism events the city is gearing up for is the 2017 solar eclipse. 

Columbia is in a unique spot for the eclipse, with the University of Missouri being one of the few major colleges near the visible path of the eclipse.