Home » Kentucky tourism generated $11.2 billion impact, 83,100 jobs in 2021

Kentucky tourism generated $11.2 billion impact, 83,100 jobs in 2021

Travel confidence rebounded from the pandemic, visitation recovering to 96% of 2019 volumes
nelson county bourbon distillery
Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, one of the newer stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, has six barrel warehouses and a 43-foot custom copper still.

FRANKFORT, Ky.—Kentucky tourism exceeded 2021 expectations with a total economic impact reaching $11.2 billion, generating 83,100 jobs across the commonwealth, Gov. Andy Beshear and Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry announced today.

According to a study from Tourism Economics, in 2021, travel confidence rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic in Kentucky, with total visitation recovering to approximately 96% of 2019 volumes. Visitor trips to the commonwealth reached 70.5 million, generating $808 million in state and local taxes, which is a $462 tax savings for every household in Kentucky.

Kentucky gross domestic product for 2021 was $234.4 billion, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.

“Kentucky is no longer a flyover state. We are the destination, and travelers from all over the world are choosing the Bluegrass as their next adventure,” Gov. Beshear said. “Tourism is essential to the overall success of our commonwealth, and I am proud that Team Kentucky has invested in this industry to help fuel recovery.”

“This upward trend is a positive sign for the future of tourism in the commonwealth,” Secretary Berry said. “The industry took a hard hit during the pandemic, but because of the Beshear administration’s investments and ongoing commitment to promote Kentucky as a safe travel destination, we are witnessing a rapid recovery.”

“We are extremely excited to see Kentucky’s tourism industry rebounding and approaching pre-pandemic numbers,” Kentucky Department of Tourism Commissioner Mike Mangeot said. “We still have a long way to go, but these numbers are very optimistic, and it reminds us how strong and essential the tourism industry is to Kentucky.”

Kentucky’s economic recovery over the last year is a reflection of continued investments in the tourism industry, according to the Governor’s Office. Throughout the pandemic, the commonwealth has invested more than $13 million in the tourism industry to strengthen promotional and advertising efforts and to encourage safe travel to Kentucky through the development of new marketing campaigns.

Previously, the governor dedicated $5.3 million in federal funding to 103 tourism and destination marketing organizations in 88 Kentucky counties.

In July, the state announced $75 million in funding that will further strengthen the industry’s promotional and advertising efforts and give the commonwealth the boost to surpass pre-pandemic numbers.

For more information and to view the full economic impact report, please visit kentuckytourism.com/industry.

For the latest Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet updates, follow the cabinet on FacebookTwitterInstagram or LinkedIn. To learn more about tourism and arts in Kentucky, visit tah.ky.gov.

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