The economic impact of tourism in Kentucky amounted to more than $12.5 billion in 2013, Governor Steve Beshear and Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Bob Stewart announced last week.
The state’s economic impact figure is a 2.6 percent increase from 2012, with Marshall County’s following close behind at 2.5 percent.
Marinel Larkin, Executive Director of Kentucky’s Western Waterland, said “Just in our region alone with the 15 westernmost counties, we had a direct economic impact of approximately $507 million, a 1.8 percent increase from 2012.”
Randy Newcomb, Executive Director of the Marshall County Tourism Commission, said the 1.8 percent increase was important, but Marshall County outperformed some of the other counties it was being compared to.
“Of the 15 counties in the Western Waterland Region nine had an increase and six had a decrease – of those nine only four of us had an increase above 1.8 percent,” Newcomb said. “All of the others had an increase of less than 1 percent. Marshall County’s increase was 2.5 percent. We went from having an economic impact of about $113.9 million to $116.8 million,” he said.
Newcomb said Marshall County’s increase almost matches the state’s 2.6 percent, which is something the county should continue to strive for in the upcoming year.
“We remain 17th out of 120 counties and we are still the only rural community to score in the top 20,” he said. “We’re just excited we can continue to grow the tourism industry.”
Newcomb said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what brought tourists to the county, but there were many factors that contributed to Marshall County’s successful tourism seasons.
“Our tourism industry continues to grow because Kentucky has stunning natural beauty, interesting and exciting attractions, and world class hospitality that make our visitors want to come back over and over again,” Gov. Beshear said. “Its growth is also evidence of the hard work of tourism businesses and the professionals who work hard each and every day to make Kentucky the great destination it is.”
“The dollars spent by visitors have strengthened our region’s economy by creating jobs, supporting local businesses from gas stations to retail stores, and generating tax revenues to support our community,” Larkin said.
“The continued popularity of bourbon and a steady uptick in the meetings and conventions sector will be important for our ability to attract even more visitors to Kentucky this year,” Stewart said.
The annual survey also showed that tourism was responsible for 175,746 jobs in Kentucky in 2013 – an increase of 1,740 jobs from the previous year. These jobs generated more than $2.8 billion in wages for Kentucky workers, an increase of nearly $72 million from the previous year.
Tourism generated $1.3 billion in tax revenues for local and state governments in 2013, an increase from $1.23 billion in 2012. Seven of the nine tourism regions showed gains for 2013.