A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State’s travel, tourism industry hit hard by COVID crisis, adds a priority to big plan: RECOVERY

Staff report

The Kentucky Travel Industry Association (KTIA) has released a plan containing over 40 recommendations designed to contribute to the recovery of Kentucky’s travel and tourism industry.

The Recovery Actions for Tourism (RAFT) plan includes recommendations pertaining to the General Assembly, Governor, state agencies and with many directed to the travel and tourism industry, itself. A RAFT/Legislative Committee comprised of industry representatives guided the development of the plan.

Both the plan and an executive summary can be accessed by clicking here.
Kentucky’s travel and tourism industry has been among the hardest hit by the COVID crisis.

According to Don Howard, KTIA’s board chairman and President of H&W Hospitality Management, “in January of 2020 this industry was a massive generator of Kentucky jobs, economic activity and local and state tax revenue. As early as February, COVID’s impact began to take its toll, ultimately leaving the industry devastated, and the devastation continues.”
According to VisitLEX President and CEO Mary Quinn Ramer, Chair of the RAFT planning committee, “KTIA has done stellar work over the course of the COVID-19 economic crisis in advocating for the industry and by supplying extensive information and advice to association members. The RAFT plan represents a third priority, and the most important one, which is recovery.”

Recommendations contained in the RAFT plan are organized into four broad categories: industry sustainability, traveler confidence and demand, responsive marketing and adaptation and innovation.
KTIA President and CEO Hank Phillips said, “We have no illusions about attempting to offer a plan for recovery from a crisis that is still unfolding and amidst the many uncertainties that lie ahead. Our starting point was concluding that there is no right time to begin recovery planning. The only certainty is that the wrong time would be to wait until the crisis has run its course.”

Because the COVID economic crisis is still evolving, so too will the path to recovery, and in turn, so too will the RAFT process. KTIA will closely monitor developments and update the recovery plan accordingly.

Julie Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of meetNKY, is looking forward to a “robust return to visitation” in the state and region.

Kirkpatrick was also a member of the RAFT Committee.

“Consumer confidence is a big key to the recovery as is a robust return to marketing and the continued development of tourism industry assets in Northern Kentucky like Turfway, the Ovation music venue, air development at CVG, and riverfront renaissance in Covington,” she said.

“I am happy to say that the Kentucky Tourism Industry Association is in lockstep with our efforts to ensure that we return strong.”

The report recognizes Kentucky’s strengths, starting with its two icons — bourbon and horses — and citing a long list — outdoor recreation and adventure, historic and cultural offerings, Bluegrass and other music, special cuisine, folk art, crafts and artisans, small towns and urban environments — and the state’s special beauty. Where else do you find blue grass?

There’s plenty more — and something for everyone.

Visitors spent $8.0 billion in 2019, generating $11.8 billion in impacts, and supported more than 95,000 jobs.

The industry expects a return to the good ol’ days and is confident in their return — but the report identifies ways to stabilize the industry and start it back on the road to recovery now.

Some of the ideas include sustainability in the form of federal and state relief funds, increasing transient taxes, adjustments to the film incentive program — all played against health and safety.

Click image to go to report

Related Posts

Leave a Comment