Photo Credit: Photo credit: Miles Manwaring
Kentucky's Tourism Soars to Unprecedented Heights in 2022, Generating Nearly $13 Billion
Kentucky’s tourism industry has triumphantly emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic’s grasp. The city saw an unprecedented economic impact of nearly $13 billion in 2022, a remarkable milestone for the city.
In a vibrant tapestry of offerings, the state’s attractions span horse farms, bourbon distilleries, outdoor escapades, and cultural enclaves. Among its other treasures, Kentucky boasts Mammoth Cave National Park, a testament to the state’s natural and historical riches.
The revival of bourbon tourism also shines brightly in Kentucky’s narrative. Attendance at distilleries along the iconic Kentucky Bourbon Trail eclipsed 2 million visitors in 2022 for the first time. This milestone was complemented by the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, which celebrates smaller distilleries and experiences.
The burgeoning trend continues this year, driven by visitors who linger longer and possess increased discretionary spending. Investment in revamped visitor centers by spirit makers has amplified the sensory experience of bourbon production, heightening the industry’s allure.
The State Produced Many More Jobs
State officials revealed that overall tourism contributed an economic impact of $12.9 billion last year, fostering 91,668 jobs across Kentucky. This surpasses the previous record of $11.8 billion in economic impact in 2019.
Mike Mangeot, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Tourism, expressed elation over the sector’s strong resurgence. This surge in economic activity underscores the profound benefits of tourism, reinforcing the importance of nurturing local communities.
Remarkably, bipartisan support has propelled the cause of tourism, with collaboration between Governor Beshear and the state’s Republican-dominated legislature. The legislature allocated $75 million from federal pandemic relief funding to bolster tourism recovery in 2022. Another $150 million went toward improvements at state parks, contingent upon the development of a comprehensive plan.