Tourist spending in GC increases by $3.1M

By Matt Lasley -

The economic impact of tourism in Grayson County continues to rise as officials report that tourist spending in the county increased by more than $3.1 million last year.

Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Don Parkinson recently announced that Kentucky’s tourism industry has experienced its strongest overall economic impact growth rate since 2005.

All nine of the state’s tourism regions registered gains for 2015 when compared with 2014, according to a news release from Grayson County Tourism.

In Grayson County in 2015, travel expenditures directly contributed $30,882,878 to the local economy. This is an increase of more than $3.1 million from the $27.7 million that were reported in 2014.

“Spending by visitors has strengthened Grayson County’s economy by creating jobs, supporting local businesses from gas stations to retail stores, and generating tax revenues to support our community,” Grayson County Tourism Director Brittany Gary said.

“Our numbers have consistently gone up for the past 10 years,” said Leitchfield Tourism Director Ilsa Johnson, adding that the rise in tourism-related spending in Grayson County last year is the most significant increase to date.

Johnson said there are a plethora of reasons for why tourism spending has risen over the last year—such as the success of the Twin Lakes, reduced gas prices, and new attractions such as Leitchfield Aquatic Center—but perhaps the most significant factor is word of mouth.

“People are starting to realize what we have,” Johnson said. “As long as we keep doing what we’re doing and enhance on it, things are only going to get better.”

Kentucky’s tourism industry as a whole generated $13.7 billion in economic impact during 2015, an increase of five percent over the previous year. The industry supported more than 186,000 jobs, including 6,200 jobs created in 2015, the release read.

Kentucky tourism generated more than $1.43 billion in taxes, with $184.9 million going directly to local communities. These are the strongest overall numbers the Commonwealth has seen in the past 10 years, according to the release.

“There continues to be momentum for tourism throughout Kentucky,” said Parkinson. “Kentucky is blessed with signature industries such as bourbon and horses. Authentic Kentucky destinations continue to draw people to the Commonwealth.”

“The economic impact numbers for 2015 reinforce the fact that the tourism industry continues to be an economic driver for Kentucky,” said Department of Travel and Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum. “Our growth in 2015 is a great indicator of how well we are marketing Kentucky and the encouraging way visitors are responding.”

The Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism plans to build upon the six pillars of Kentucky Tourism (horses, bourbon, music, arts, outdoors, and culinary) over the next year with creative marketing and programming that will reach new audiences and present Kentucky as a top-level destination.

Additionally, the budget approved by Governor Matt Bevin includes $18 million in additional funding to improve the safety and aesthetics of Kentucky State Parks. These improvements are expected to also strengthen Kentucky’s tourism industry.

To learn more about Kentucky tourism, visit

By Matt Lasley

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

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