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Local Tourism Generated $45 Million In 2022, State Figures Show

Historical reenactor Jesse Deesch fires a cannon during the 2016 Settlement & Raid at Old Fort Harrod State Park. (File image).

Robert Moore
Herald Staff
rmoore@harrodsburgherald.com

Tourism officials locally and at the state level are celebrating 2022, which was the best year on record for Kentucky tourism, generating $12.9 billion in economic impact and 91,668 jobs. That includes more than $45 million spent right here in Mercer County, supporting 395 jobs, according to figures recently released by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

“We are proud of the numbers that we received that show the true importance of tourism in our community,” said Daarik Gray, executive director of the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission. “Mercer County has so much to offer and seeing the growth that we continue to show each year is a true testament to that.”

According to the state government, Mercer County tourism generated a labor income of nearly $13 million as well as $3.3 million in state and local taxes.

“We are so appreciative of the employees and owners directly involved in the tourism industry, as they continue to help our community strive and grow, and help showcase what all we have to offer to the rest of Kentucky and beyond,” Gray said.

Mercer County is considered by the state to be part of the Bluegrass, Horses, Bourbon and Boone Region, which also saw a big 2022, with more than $2.43 billion in spending generating $188.5 million in state and local taxes and supporting 18,090 jobs, according to the state. Across the commonwealth, the 2022 numbers surpassed the previous highest record of $11.8 billion in economic impact in 2019, and 91,668 jobs, according to state figures.

In 2022, 75.9 million travelers visited Kentucky, spending $8.9 billion across the commonwealth, according to a study by Tourism Economics. More than $937 million in state and local taxes were generated, equating to a $536 tax savings for every Kentucky household. Total visitation reached 103 percent of 2019 volumes, while visitor spending reached 112 percent.

“Tourism is essential to Kentucky and that is why I have made it a priority to support this industry. It’s thrilling to see our hard work pay off in such a historic way,” said Gov. Andy Beshear in a press release. “From horse country and outdoor adventure to history, arts, culture and our world-famous bourbon, Kentucky has a little something for every traveler—but what really sets us apart is the hospitality and kindness of the hardworking Kentuckians in this industry.”

While communities across Kentucky saw historic numbers, Gray and the tourist commission are busy working on drawing even more visitors to the area. Earlier this year, they passed budget which projects expenses of more than $1.2 million in the year to come, with most of the money—$934,900—being spent in marketing.

That includes nearly $600,000 in sponsorships and grants. Some of the biggest beneficiaries including Anderson-Dean Community Park, which is set to receive $150,000 in quarterly payments; the 250th Celebration, which is set to receive $130,000; and the Harrodsburg First Main Street Program, which is set to receive $106,000, including $54,000 for Oktoberfest, $40,000 to the agency, $7,000 for the Christmas committee and $5,000 for the downtown flower project.

According to the tourist commission, allocations had increased up to 17 percent for nearly everyone compared to last year. That money is being used to create advertising, purchase billboards and TV commercials as well as social media posts. The tourist commission is currently looking at subscribing to a software service that would allow them to compile information on local events and businesses, including attendance. The tourist commission is currently in the process of purchasing the empty lot next to Olde Town Park in downtown Harrodsburg. They will host yoga nights on Saturday, Sept. 16; Saturday, Oct. 14; and Saturday, Nov. 11, and Oktoberfest events Friday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 1; a movie night Saturday, Oct. 14; and an ice skating rink Friday, Dec. 1, through Sunday, Dec. 3.

To see the full study from Tourism Economics, visit tah.ky.gov.

The Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commissionis located at the Diamond Point Welcome Center (488 Price Avenue). For more, visit mercercountyky.com or call 800-355-9192.

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