Welcome to KY: State’s travel and tourism industry has $13 billion economic impact

Tourists come for our parks, caves, bourbon and horses.

Tourists come for our parks, caves, bourbon and horses.

Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen had great news to deliver today at the Kentucky Travel Industry Annual Conference in Bowling Green: The commonwealth’s travel and tourism industry is larger than ever — increasing by more than $2.2 billion throughout the past five years to $13 billion — and supports more than 180,000 jobs statewide.

Those figures make the tourism industry the third-largest job creator during Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration, she said.

Along with our numerous parks, lakes and cave systems, we can thank the popularity of bourbon and horse-racing as well.

If you barrel it, they will come.

If you barrel it, they will come.

“Kentucky is on the move, and tourism is a big part of this success,” Luallen said in a press release. “Working with our travel and tourism partners, we’ve showcased to the world Kentucky’s remarkable beauty and resources, from our magnificent mountains, unique cave system and recreation lakes, to our one-of-a-kind Kentucky Bourbon Trail destinations and world-famous thoroughbred industry.”

To further drive home the importance of our state’s tourism impact, Luallen noted that the Kentucky General Assembly recently established a standing committee to monitor issues associated with the industry, and Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) created a tourism work group to help tout the rich geography of Eastern Kentucky.

The conference, taking place Oct. 19-21, is hosted by the Kentucky Travel Industry Association each fall and attracts tourism professionals, exhibitors and anyone interested in Kentucky tourism.