Governor Steve Beshear has named a longtime tourism veteran to oversee the part of his cabinet dealing with travel and the arts.
Bob Stewart is a familiar face in state government, having worked for 11 years as commissioner of travel from 1992 to 2003.
And now, he'll be the new Tourism Secretary, having been appointed by Beshear to fill the post vacated by Marcheta Sparrow, who’s retiring.
Stewart is starting work for his fourth governor, having previously served under Brereton Jones, Martha Layne Collins and Julian Carroll. He's either played roles in tourism or worked as an executive assistant for those governors.
A new report says the economic impact of tourism in Kentucky grew again last year.
The study reports a $12 billion impact for tourism last year. That's up about four and a half percent from the previous year. In addition, the report credits tourism for 174,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in wages.
In a statement, tourism officials give partial credit to growth of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The series of distilleries has drawn steady interest since it's inception in 1999, but broke an attendance record last year, drawing over half a million visitors.
Owensboro's tourism economy took a pounding after its largest hotel, the Executive Inn Rivermont, closed in 2008 as the national economy started to falter, but now things are looking better. The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is funded primarily by a hotel room tax, brought in $587,567 at the end of this fiscal year --more than the $512,000 budgeted.
Tourism officials say ten to fifteen thousand visitors are expected in Bowling Green for the National Bosniak Convention, which will be held Memorial Day weekend. Organizers of the event say it is usually held in larger cities, such as St. Louis or Toronto.
The ten-county Caves, Lakes and Corvettes Region saw an increase of 3.7% in direct tourism expenditures in 2011 equaling nearly $340 million. The increase added an overall amount of nearly $534 million in total expenditures to the region's economy.