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Gov. Beshear announces plan to invest in Kentucky tourism

$75 million is being put toward Kentucky tourism to boost the state's economy following a decline of visitors due to the pandemic.
Credit: aheflin - stock.adobe.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's tourism industry has declined since COVID-19 ravaged the country. For the first time since the virus began to spread, Kentucky is finally prioritizing tourism again.

Monday, Governor Andy Beshear and Mike Berry, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet secretary, announced Kentucky will allocate $75 million to boost the state's tourism industry and economy.

Beshear said the funding is crucial for Kentucky's $8.9 billion tourism industry, which supports economic growth in both rural and urban communities.

“Kentucky is a world-class tourism destination, full of unique experiences that travelers and Kentuckians alike travel far and wide to enjoy,” Beshear said.

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The $75 million funding came from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program of the American Rescue Plan Act and is divided into four pools.

Each pool of funds will be distributed to eligible tourism-forward organizations that apply and demonstrate the impact COVID-19 has had on their group.

According to a Governor's Communications Office press release, the Kentucky Department of Tourism will allocate this funding to eligible organizations throughout the commonwealth over the next several weeks.

The $75 million in ARPA funding will be distributed as follows:

  • Pool one: $15 million will be used for statewide tourism marketing efforts.
  • Pool two: $25 million will be used in a grant program for tourism commissions to market their communities.
  • Pool three: $25 million will be used to attract meetings and conventions.
  • Pool four: $10 million will be used for multicounty collaborative destination marketing.

Secretary Mike Berry says, “This additional funding support will give our tourism partners the resources to promote and showcase Kentucky as a diverse, welcoming destination full of travel opportunities and new adventures.”

Last year, $5.3 million in federal funding was allocated to 103 tourism and destination marketing organizations in 88 Kentucky counties, a far cry from the $75 million being put aside this year.

Kentucky Department of Tourism Commissioner Mike Mangeot says, “The tourism industry is essential to the economic growth of Kentucky.”


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