FRANKFORT — Visitor spending and visitation growth in Kentucky both increased in 2018 according to a study from Tourism Economics, the Kentucky Department of Tourism’s new research partner. Visitor trips to and within the Commonwealth topped 71.6 million in 2018, with visitor spending climbing to nearly $7.6 billion, a 3.7 percent increase over the prior year and 21 percent increase since 2013.

“Tourism continues to play a vital role in Kentucky’s economy,” said Jay Hall, Acting Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Tourism. “The growth shown in this new report is a testament to the authentic visitor experiences offered across the state, and we look forward to using this data to help increase visits, visitor spending, and tourism employment for the Commonwealth and our local partners in the future.”

Using the Tourism Economics model, the economic impact of the tourism industry in Kentucky went from $10.9 billion in 2017 to $11.2 billion in 2018, generating more than 94,500 jobs and $787 million in state and local taxes.

Representing both the U.S. and international destinations, Tourism Economics is a world leader in economic impact analysis, forecasts and consulting for the tourism sector. As Tourism Economics is utilized by many U.S. state tourism departments, one benefit to Kentucky is that report findings allow for a more accurate comparison with key competitors.

The Kentucky Department of Tourism continues to build upon Kentucky’s signature tourism industries of horses, bourbon, music, arts, outdoors and culinary to reach new audiences and position Kentucky as a top-tier travel destination for visitors internationally and domestically.

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