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Sen. Damon Thayer receives inaugural KTIA Tourism Award for Legislative Leadership

The Kentucky Travel Industry Association (KTIA) has awarded Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, the inaugural Kentucky Tourism Award for Legislative Leadership (TALL).

Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (left) and Kentucky Travel Industry Association CEO accepted the inaugural Kentucky Tourism Award for Legislative Leadership from president Hank Phillips;   (provided photo).

The TALL honors legislators for outstanding tourism leadership in their district and throughout the Commonwealth. It was presented to Senator Thayer Tuesday during the Georgetown/Scott County Tourism Commission Business After Hours.

Sen. Thayer received the award in recognition of his instrumental role in turning back the proposed suspension of the Tourism Development Act (TDA) during the 2018 session and for his sponsorship of the School Calendar Bill during the 2017 session.

The Tourism Awards for Legislative Leadership will be presented by KTIA to Kentucky legislators that play a significant role in leading tourism efforts in their district and throughout the Commonwealth. Selections are made by the KTIA Board of Directors.

“I am honored to present Senator Thayer with the first TALL. He truly exemplifies dedication to Kentucky tourism and local businesses,” said Hank Phillips, KTIA CEO & president. “KTIA recognizes and appreciates Senator Thayer’s efforts to support the longevity and continued growth of tourism in the commonwealth. We are thankful for his leadership in the state legislature and for standing ‘TALL’ for Kentucky Tourism.”

The TDA is a priority issue for the tourism industry as it provides a state sales tax incentive program for tourism development projects. The program provides the necessary financing assistance for the development or expansion of small tourism attractions and businesses.

“Every year thousands of tourists visit attractions in Georgetown, allowing our local economy to flourish,” said Lori Saunders, Georgetown/Scott County Tourism Commission executive director. “We are grateful to be represented by Senator Thayer who works tirelessly to expand awareness of tourism’s impact in Scott County, as well as across Kentucky.”

Phillips presented the Kentucky TALL to Senator Thayer on behalf of KTIA.

“I am amazed by Kentucky’s businesses’ commitment to tourism, not only for its importance in economic development, but also for improving the quality of life for Kentuckians and for sharing with the world all that Kentucky has to offer,” said Sen. Thayer. “I am honored to receive the inaugural TALL and look forward to continuing my partnership with the travel industry to make our state a great place to live, work and visit.”

The tourism industry annually generates an economic impact of over $15 billion for the Commonwealth and supports nearly 200,000 Kentucky jobs. While KTIA recognizes the importance of economic development, the TALL also reflects the fun that visitors experience at Kentucky’s destinations. As such, Thayer’s award is a bobblehead doll in his likeness. All subsequent recipients will receive their own customized TALL bobblehead.

“Senator Thayer’s commitment to the TDA has allowed businesses to benefit from this program. In turn, we have been able to bring more attractions and accommodations to Kentucky,” said Mark Looy, CCO and Co-founder of: Answers in Genesis, Creation Museum, and Ark Encounter. “Thank you, Senator Thayer, for your dedication to our community and the tourism industry. I don’t know of a more dedicated legislator in the state when it comes to promoting tourism.”

The Kentucky Travel Industry Association (KTIA) represents and serves the interests of Kentucky’s travel industry. The approximately 422 organizations and 830 individuals from those organizations include attractions, convention & visitor bureaus, hotels, restaurants, state government agencies, universities, media and industry suppliers.

“The explosion of investments in tourism attractions across the commonwealth would not be possible without Senator Thayer’s efforts to halt the proposed suspension of the TDA,” said Kevin Smith, Beam Suntory Vice President of Beam Bourbon Affairs. “On behalf of Beam Suntory, I would like to thank Senator Thayer for his leadership and commitment to making Kentucky a world-class destination.”

Alongside Senator Thayer’s tourism leadership recognition, Scott County received the Economic Engine Award from the KTIA for its significant economic impact on the local economy through tourism in July. In 2017, Georgetown’s tourism industry created 1,836 tourism jobs and generated more than $187 million in economic impact.


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