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Kentucky tourism industry getting $75 million infusion to curb COVID impact

Kentucky Tourism

Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry and Gov. Andy Beshear announced a $75 million dollar boost to Kentucky’s tourism industry Monday. The funding infusion is aimed at combating a decline in visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new funding is meant to augment the state’s $8.9 billion dollar tourism industry, which supports economic growth in both rural and urban communities. The commonwealth has seen more than $13 million dollars of investments into the tourism industry throughout the pandemic with the governor previously dedicating $5.3 million dollars to over 100 tourism and destination marketing organizations in 88 of Kentucky’s counties.

“Kentucky is a world-class tourism destination, full of unique experiences that travelers and Kentuckians alike travel far and wide to enjoy,” Beshear said in a release. “Our tourism industry is critical to our economic success, and now is the time to invest and support our travel partners across the commonwealth as we see our economy booming and our communities and our people reaping the benefits.”

The money comes from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was supported by the governor and allocated by the General Assembly in the 2022 legislative session.

The funding is divided into four pools including statewide tourism marketing efforts, a grant program for tourism commissions to market their communities, attracting meetings and conventions, and multicounty collaborative destination marketing.

Funding will be distributed to eligible tourism and destination marketing organizations that can show the impact COVID has had on their group. Officials have allocated $25 million towards local tourism commissions to market their communities, $25 million towards attracting conventions and meetings, $15 million for statewide marketing and $10 million for multicounty collaborations.

An application for funding is available on the Kentucky Tourism website.

“Both the Governor and the General Assembly have been supportive of our efforts, and as a result of their bipartisan commitment, we are positioning Kentucky to lead the tourism and hospitality industries nationally,” Berry said. “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.”