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Two New Reports Show Billions of Dollars Spent in Northern Kentucky & Cincinnati on Tourism

Tourism agencies from both sides of the Ohio River, as well as Kentucky's tourism cabinet released reports this week indicating a strong tourism economy in the region.

Regional travel and tourism in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region is a multi-billion industry and attracts millions of visitors, sustains thousands of jobs and generates nearly $500 million for state and local governments.

Those are among the key findings of “Impact & Momentum: A Report on Cincinnati USA’s Travel and Tourism Industry and its Influence on the Regional Economy”, a study commissioned by meetNKY (formerly known as the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau), the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), and the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network (RTN) and released to coincide with 2015 National Travel & Tourism Week (May 2-10).

“Northern Kentucky is a major contributor to the regional travel and tourism industry,” said meetNKY President and CEO Eric Summe. “meetNKY is proud and honored to work in collaboration with the Cincinnati USA CVB and the RTN in celebrating our success but more importantly on continuing to attract visitors, economic development, investment, jobs and spending to what is becoming one of world’s great destinations. We are working across state and political boundaries for the benefit of all of our communities.”

The study was based on a 2013 survey of visitors to the region conducted by Tourism Economics in conjunction with Longwoods International and included 15 counties in three states. It revealed that the travel and tourism is a significant contributor to the local economy. Key findings include:

  • Visitors to the region spent $4.4 billion in 2013, a 5.1 percent increase over 2012, including $629 million on hotels, $898 million on retail and $1.4 billion on food and beverage.
  • The region hosted 24.1 million visitors in 2013, an increase of 4 percent over 2012. Ninety percent of visitors came for leisure and 40 percent stayed at least one night.
  • More than 74,000 jobs were sustained by the regional travel and tourism industry.
  • Travel and tourism generated $492 million in state and local tax revenue, offsetting the average household tax burden by $602.
  • Since 2009, tourism sales have grown at an average of 4.1 percent – compared to 3 percent nationally – and total employment sustained by tourism increased 3.4 percent.
  • Leisure visitors spent $101 per person per day; business travelers spent $189 per person per day

“Travel and the visitor spend are amazing catalysts for economic development,” said meetNKY Board Chair Alan Bernstein. “There is an incredible amount of hotel, attraction and amenity investment in our area: completed, in progress and in planning. We are a region on the rise with strong momentum. This great development makes us a stronger region which ultimately benefits and impacts all of our residents.”

meetNKY also helped boost tourism and travel through advocacy with the Kentucky Development Tourism Development Authority and has been instrumental in securing major sales tax rebates for major visitor attractions including Newport on the Levee, the Aloft hotel at the Levee and the Hotel Covington.

Meanwhile, the economic impact of tourism in Kentucky amounted to nearly $13.1 billion in 2014, Governor Steve Beshear announced this week. The figure is a 4.4 percent increase from 2013.

“The economic impact from tourism in Kentucky has increased by more than $2.2 billion and 13,000 jobs over the last five years,” Beshear said. “That translates to more spending and jobs in small and large communities across the state. I’m proud that our work with the tourism industry has been so successful.”

Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties all saw increases in tourism expenditures in 2014. Direct expenditures in Boone County topped $920 million and in Kenton County direct expenditures also topped $665 million. Campbell County's number was over $79 million in direct expenditures.

The annual survey also showed that tourism supported 179,963 jobs in Kentucky in 2014 – an increase of 4,217 jobs from the previous year. These jobs generated more than $2.9 billion in wages for Kentucky workers, an increase of nearly $123 million from the previous year. 

Tourism generated $1.37 billion in tax revenues for local and state governments in 2014, an increase from $1.31 billion in 2013.  

“It’s great news that tourism spending is up in rural and urban areas all across the state,” said Bob Stewart, secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. “The growing impact of Kentucky’s tourism industry continues to fuel economic activity all over the Commonwealth, and that’s a great sign for our overall economic vitality.”

“The 2014 numbers clearly show that our industry’s work and advertising efforts are reaching potential visitors and driving traffic to the Commonwealth,” said Michael Mangeot, commissioner of the Department of Travel and Tourism. “Kentucky competes with destinations worldwide, and advertising plays a vital role in allowing us to showcase the authentic opportunities that set us apart with travelers.” 

-Staff report

Photo via meetNKY