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Louisville Tourism optimistic about Kentucky Derby festivities

"We are very optimistic with the Derby numbers we are seeing. This is a good sign," said Natalie Chaoudin with Muhammad Ali International Airport.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The countdown has officially begun for the greatest two minutes in sports. It comes as Louisville is beginning to rebuild itself. 

As the festivities kick off, visitors are arriving in town, people are downtown, and the energy is increasing.

Stacey Yates, the Vice-President of Marketing and Communications for Louisville Tourism, said during a typical year, hotels in Louisville are at 98% percent capacity. Louisville Tourism has been conducting reports weekly to check occupancy. 

"We just ran the report yesterday, and we are up to 61% occupancy for the Greater Louisville Area with about five hotels sold out city-wide," she said.   

To put this perspective, Louisville has more than 100 hotels. Yates said Derby is the largest generator for Louisville Tourism annually, bringing an average of $400 million. This year Yates is expecting less than 10% of that. 

"Put in through our economic generator model it spits out just south of 35 million so that's a big gap, but in perspective, it's still larger than any convention we would host in a typical year." 

At Muhammad Ali International Airport, Natalie Chaoudin, director of public relations, is hopeful.

"We are very optimistic with the Derby numbers we are seeing. This is a good sign," she said. 

SDF saw a record year in 2019. Chaudoin said SDF is expecting 14,500 flyers to arrive this upcoming Wednesday through Friday. 

"We are continuing to see about 65% of traffic compared to 2019. We see that as a really good sign," she said. 

►Contact reporter Elle Smith at esmith@whas11.com or on her social media outlets: Facebook or Twitter.

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