Story by: The Lane Report
Continuing an especially good run in recent years, vibrant Kentucky tourism grew another 5 percent in 2016, the strongest expansion rate since 2005, according to Kentucky’s Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The economic impact hit $14.5 billion last year, when all nine of the state tourism regions experienced increases.
Rising global taste for and interest in bourbon has certainly helped spike the numbers. It’s driving a revival down old West Main Street in downtown Louisville as well as hotel construction there and elsewhere in the state.
Long mostly a seasonal industry busy in spring and summer, tourism-sector members are developing it into a year-round enterprise in Kentucky that generates $1.5 billion in tax revenue and supports 193,000 jobs – an important number that grew by 7,000 in the 2016 measure.
And it’s going to be better for the foreseeable future, according to Kristen Branscum, commissioner of the Department of Travel and Tourism.
“The next three to five years are going to be incredible” Branscum said. “Very simply, Kentucky is in a wonderful place as far as the tourism sector goes. We have those authentic experiences that they are looking for. We are centrally located, and the Southern region is hot right now … among international visitors who want to come for that authentic Americana.”