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Economic Outlook 2023: Tourism

By wmadministrator

Elizabeth Todd “Berea Tourism”

“On a scale of 1-10 I expect the Kentucky/U.S. economy to be at a 5-6 as we move through 2023. Within the sector of tourism and LearnShops art classes, I expect the economy to be at a 9-10.

In Berea, the motorcoach buses book in Berea, restaurants are busy, hotels are booked and people are shopping. The demand to purchase and create art is at an all-time high. Berea Tourism’s LearnShop art and craft classes, including Appalachian and other mediums, offer something rare and accessible. This result stems from pent-up demand and a collaborative and creative effort to ensure that visitors choose Berea for the dynamics that make it special: art, dining, outdoor adventure, and the overall small-town, friendly vibe that’s irreplaceable.

The LearnShop’s employment of juried artist instructors has increased in recent years and will continue as more courses are offered to reach the demand for creative learning opportunities. The LearnShops brand is well-known and established, with a consistent reputation for excellence and happy students. This encourages attendees to return and experienced artists to continue to participate and attract new artists. Classes offer a creative outlet, a new skill, and a chance to come together with friends and family. Traditionally our class participants have surplus income and will take classes, regardless of how the economy fares. Participants travel from all over the country and stay several nights. The post-event survey response is tremendous. Tourism and LearnShops help fuel Berea’s economy by supporting businesses that rely on outside visitors and tourism to thrive.”


Sherry Murphy “Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau”

“The tourism and hospitality industry in Bowling Green and Warren County is still witnessing tremendous momentum due in part to the pent-up demand for travel from the pandemic but also the fast-paced growth of our southern Kentucky area. We are an affordable destination for families and empty-nesters, and we expect visitors to continue to choose to travel to Bowling Green well into 2023. The 2023 motorsports sector looks strong with the GM Corvette Plant opening back up to tours, as well as the meetings and convention sector returning to normal operations.

“Like many other cities, we are struggling to find workers to fill jobs in Bowling Green and Warren County, but we continue to tackle these issues along with our city and county leaders.”


Mary Quinn Ramer “VisitLEX”

“Lexington is well poised to have its best and brightest tourism year yet. Together, the VisitLEX and the Central Bank Center sales teams have booked 65 conventions and meetings for the next three years, which will bring 300,000 attendees; 76,000 guest rooms; and nearly $70 million in economic impact to Lexington. Leisure tourism has rebounded, and we expect incremental growth in that sector in 2023. Conventions have been slower to recover to pre-pandemic levels, but with coordinated marketing efforts and the attraction of the new Central Bank Center, the convention market should fully rebound in 2023.”


David S. Beck “Kentucky Venues”

“As a leader in driving economic activity within the common-wealth, Kentucky Venues is optimistic and leaning into the actions that created rapid recovery over the previous year. Compared to 2019, our event activity has more than fully recovered at the Kentucky Exposition Center and Kentucky International Convention Center. Demand for in-person activity is evident and major events happily call our state home because of the focus we have on improvement. The thoughtful appropriation of $200 million from the General Assembly to envision new and improved facilities will create new ways for us to connect communities, retain and grow business in 2023 and beyond.”


Mike Mangeot “Kentucky Department of Tourism”

“Although we cannot predict the future, we are in the best position in recent history to see continued growth. In 2021, the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector, new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with nearly $7.5 billion invested and more than 13,000 full-time jobs created just through September.

“Since taking office, Gov. Beshear’s administration has welcomed $22 billion in investments that are creating 40,800 jobs, including the two largest economic development projects in state history. Kentucky’s success has been noted by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, which have upgraded the state’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy. Kentucky has posted record-low unemployment rates for five consecutive months, holding at or below 3.9% since April 2022. From September 2021 to September 2022, Kentucky added 81,700 new jobs. Except for a four-month recovery period after the initial COVID-19 shock, this is the largest number of new jobs added in 20 years.

“In the travel sector, we are seeing a strong recovery. In 2021, our economic impact was $11.2 billion, recovering to 96% of our pre-pandemic levels. Our 2022 occupancy rates, average daily rate and revenue per available room are all outpacing 2021. Research shows that travelers will continue to look for experiences that are new to them, continue to embrace the outdoors and want to visit smaller destinations. Kentucky is well positioned to capitalize on these trends.

“I anticipate our staffing will be unchanged to slightly up.”


Janette Marson “ShelbyKY Toursim”

“The 2023 economy is really unknown at this time, but I am cautiously optimistic that we could be about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 for 2023. I keep hearing the word “recession” thrown around but hope we can avoid a true recession by keeping consumer spending up and continuing to add additional people into the workforce.

“In the world of travel and tourism, I believe the outlook for 2023 is much more positive than the general U.S. economy forecast. All indications show that domestic travel to Kentucky and around the U.S. will continue to increase in 2023. People need an escape and don’t want to skip taking a vacation. Vacationers are staying closer to home and visiting destinations that they are able to drive to.  Many of the visitors that come to Shelby County are from within our own state. International travel seems to be picking up, but at a slower pace than that of domestic travel.  Right now, things are somewhat more expensive, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting travel and vacations as much as expected.  I anticipate that tourist spending will be up in 2023 and that the economic impact from travel and tourism will be very positive.”
“As for ShelbyKY Tourism, we are at full staff capacity, but fully anticipate that our spending will increase in 2023—both in advertising as well as general budget spending.  Shelby County is ever increasing in unique and lovely lodging options for vacationers. We are adding additional bourbon distilleries in the coming years and have some great outdoor adventure opportunities. Our destination is growing and becoming very popular with travelers. Because of this, we plan to increase our advertising efforts in 2023—statewide, national and internationally—to bring in additional vacationers (tourist spending) to our area and in turn boost the local economy. I have high hopes for the 2023 economy here in Shelby County and Kentucky as a whole.”


Julie Kirkpatrick “meetNKY”

“We expect the tourism economy in Northern Kentucky to continue its upward trend in 2023. We will continue to see recovery in the business and meetings sectors and new records from leisure travelers into the region.

We think there is still pent-up travel demand, especially for special events and concerts. We saw record attendance at the 2022 Cincinnati Music Festival and without a doubt we will see the same in 2023, along with huge demand during Taylor Swift’s visit to the region at the end of June.

We expect our spending for tourism marketing and promotions to increase minimally in 2023 as we resume international marketing efforts supporting the new British Airways service to London at CVG International Airport.


Erin Carrico “Murray Convention & Visitors Bureau”

“The tourism industry is on the cusp of a big bang. Traveler confidence has increased and while the travel patterns and behaviors have changed, DMOs (destination marketing organizations) have found creative ways to be attractive to new audiences. As a rural community (and a university town), we have been able to exceed projections for our destination. Visitors are currently intrigued by outdoor activities, mom-and-pop restaurants and small-town feels, all of which are found in Murray, Kentucky.”


Hank Phillips “Kentucky Travel Industry Association”

“Although there are continuing variables that could dampen the outlook, we expect the next year to be robust for Kentucky’s travel and tourism industry, and in turn another year of the industry’s multibillion-dollar contribution to Kentucky’s economy.  On the plus side there is high demand among travelers and Kentucky continues to raise its profile as a leisure travel destination.  That awareness should gain even more momentum as American Rescue Plan Act funds appropriated by the 2022 General Assembly for tourism marketing are activated. The variables that continue to swirl around our industry include labor shortages, economic factors that could decrease travelers’ disposable income and confidence, and the degree to which business travel rebounds.”