Missouri's tourism industry struggling; Governor turns to Springfield attorney for solutions

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The state of Missouri's tourism industry is suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic. The governor is turning to a Springfield lawyer for solutions.

Tourism joins agriculture and manufacturing as the state's top three industries. Missouri businesses earn up to $18 billion per year off tourism.

The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau says everything began to go downhill as soon as the NBA delayed its season. After that in Springfield, organizers with the Christian homeschool basketball championships canceled. Organizers of Missouri high school basketball championships canceled too. Then some 60 more events canceled.

"I think the estimated expenditures from those groups is more than $40 million lost," said Tracy Kimberlin of the Springfield Convention and Business Bureau. "And that is basically business canceled from mid-March through the end of June."

Governor Parson this week appointed Joe Passanise, a defense attorney in Springfield, to the state's tourism commission.

I honored to be blessed with this opportunity to serve," said Passanise. "It is going to be interesting going forward to how Missouri will recovers in the industry because we have to do it in a safe and responsible way. Tourism is an essential part of our economy."

Business owners say the key to bringing back the tourism industry is treatment or a vaccine for the coronavirus.