Kentucky added over 1,700 jobs in the tourism sector last year, bringing the total number of commonwealth residents employed in the tourism industry to 175,000. Bob Stewart, Kentucky’s Secretary of Tourism, Arts and Heritage says the number of jobs dependent on visitors is actually a lot more.
“We think about the front-line folks, but there are lots of other jobs,” said Stewart. “People who are involved in marketing; people who are involved in management of business and attractions and so-forth and so-on. It really does ripple through the economy.”
Overall, Kentucky saw a 2.6 percent boost in tourism spending, bringing the overall economic impact to $12.6 billion in 2013.
Stewart says the Bourbon Trail and so-called “adventure tourism”, or activities that make use of the state’s natural resources – are among the reasons for the boost in tourists. He also says the number of industry conventions and business meetings are also on the rise.
“That mirrors what’s going on nationally as well. Meetings and conventions, which had really fallen off after 2008 and the economic downturn that everyone experienced, I think we’re coming out of that and we’ve seen a bit of an uptick in meetings and conventions around the state,” said Stewart.
The new numbers were released Monday, just a few weeks before the start of the major tourist season in Kentucky – Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The sector of the Kentucky tourism industries labeled “Caves, Lakes & Corvettes” saw a 3.4 percent increase in 2013.