Floods Inconveniencing, but Not Stopping, Visitors to KC

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Flooding along the Missouri River in northwestern Missouri is putting up a roadblock for some visitors to the metro, as they say that the detour around the flooded I-29 is a major pain in the neck.

The interstate is closed at Rockport, Missouri, and through a large part of Iowa. The detour routes around the closure can add hours to the travel time for visitors from Omaha, one of Kansas City's biggest markets for tourism.

Whether it's for a concert at the Sprint Center or a tour of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, visitors from Nebraska and western Iowa are a huge segment of the summer tourists who take their vacations in kansas city. At the President Hotel in downtown, general manager Philip Strnad says that the shutdown of Interstate 29 isn't causing many travelers to change their plans, at least so far.

"We've only had one cancellation so far from the Omaha area in the past two weeks. I think people who are coming down are going to come down anyway. If they have to drive an extra hour to get here they're going to do that," said Strnad.

But while travellers are still making the trip to KC, many say that they aren't fans of the added hour-and-a-half added to the drive by the detour.

"If you're from Omaha, you figure it's just a hop skip and jump from KC to Omaha to just to go visit or something like that. Now, rather than two-and-a-half hours, it's more like 4 hours. Most people are not driving I-29 that much, either way," said Nathaniel Richardson of Omaha.

Despite the flooding and interstate closure, the KC Convention and Visitors Association says the summer season has been good. On average, nearly 22 million people visit Kansas City each year, about 80 percent of them for vacation.

"Travel is still held out as one of those things that I will not give up. Even with gas prices the way they are, they may not stay in higher end hotels, they may rachet down, they may not have the higher-end meals and such, but they will find a way to keep that vacation on schedule," said Rick Hughes of the KC Convention and Visitors Association.

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