A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Tourism meant $15 billion to Kentucky’s economy in 2017; Boone, Kenton counties rank third and fourth

By Tom Latke
Kentucky Today

Tourism continues to be big business in Kentucky, according to figures released by the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet this week.

A report entitled Economic Impact of Kentucky’s Travel and Tourism Industry finds tourism contributed more than $15 billion to Kentucky’s economy in 2017, with direct expenditures by tourist accounting for more than $9.5 billion of the total, a 3.8 percent increase over 2016.

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The tourism industry generated more than $1.57 billion in tax revenue, an increase of $50 million from 2016.  A total of $1.37 billion of that amount went to the state, with the remaining $202 million to local governments.

Other findings from the report include:


· All nine tourism regions of Kentucky showed gains in revenues between 2016 and 2017. The largest increase occurred in the Western Waterlands Region, up 6.4 percent between the two years. It was followed closely by the Northern Kentucky Region with a 6.3 percent increase.

· A total of 195,503 jobs
in Kentucky resulted from the industry in 2017—up 2,806 jobs from 2016. Direct expenditures created 136,907 of these jobs.


· The tourism-generated jobs provided over $3.3 billion in wages to Kentucky workers—an increase of $65 million from 2016 wages.

“The tourism industry is a driving force for Kentucky’s economy and the 2017 economic impact numbers reinforce this,” said Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum. “We look at growth in our state in terms of investment and the impact numbers prove that visitors are investing their money and time into Kentucky.”

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Jefferson County led the way with more than $3.5 billion in tourism expenditures, an increase of two thirds over the $2.1 billion in 2016.

Fayette County was second with just over $2 billion in total tourism expenditures.

Boone County finished third with $1.6 billion, while neighboring Kenton County was next at $1.1 billion.

Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties received Economic Engine Awards from the Kentucky Travel Industry Association (KTIA) during the meetNKY National Travel & Tourism Week celebration Wednesday afternoon.

Hardin County rounded out the top five with $386 million.

The Kentucky Department of Tourism says its hopes are to continue building 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

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