tourism

Rhonda J. Miller

Small museums across Kentucky are a vital part of the state's tourism industry. Like so many other institutions, these specialized museums are facing the challenges of remaining open and serving the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small museums across the commonwealth spotlight a numbers of Kentucky’s favorite activities, such as motorsports, basketball, and music. 

On a recent morning at the Muhlenberg Music Museum in Central City, Freddie Mayes played some of the most popular songs of Everly Brothers on the jukebox, including Wake Up Little Susie and Dream.

"This is a 1953 model jukebox that’s been restored," said Mayes. "It’s loaded with the 45s of the Everly Brothers music, all of their gold records are there." 

National Corvette Museum Primed for Growth in 2020

Dec 26, 2019
National Corvette Museum

The National Corvette Museum is capitalizing on a wave of adventure tourism in Kentucky. 

The Bowling Green facility welcomed more than a 250,000 visitors to the museum in 2018. President and C.E.O. Sean Preston said the Corvette is perfect for those seeking something out of the ordinary.

"Adventure tourists are people that want to see something they don't see in their everyday life.  They want to be whisked away from the daily grind of life, the Monday-through-Friday of work, and come to a place where they can just forget about that, and pay attention to, or focus on something that's so unique and so different."


Meet The Coal Town Betting Big On Outdoor Recreation

Sep 30, 2019
Brittany Patterson I Ohio Valley ReSource

Standing on the breezy outlook at Flag Rock Recreation Area, Norton City Manager Fred Ramey is taking in the panoramic view of downtown Norton, Virginia. The brick building-lined streets are framed by the verdant, rolling Appalachian mountains. Jagged, brown scars from mountaintop mining operations can be seen in the distance, reminders of the region’s history of coal production.

“It’s a great overlook of the city, and people really are surprised when they get up here at the view,” he says. “It's truly beautiful, and it's unique. It's something that we have that not everyone else has.”


National Park Service

National parks in Kentucky have repair bills exceeding $111 million.

That figure comes from new data published by the Restore America’s Parks Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts. Marcia Argust, the project’s director, said federal parks in Kentucky have a lot of needs.

“We’re talking about things like taking care of buildings, maintaining roads, trails, water and sewage systems, visitor’s centers, campgrounds, and memorials and backgrounds. Sometimes when people think about national park units, they don’t think about infrastructure, but those are the issues we’re talking about.”


Casey Jones Distillery

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour is welcoming its 20th member.

Casey Jones Distillery in Hopkinsville has been added to the craft tour, which is made up of smaller boutique distilleries across the commonwealth.

Casey Jones President Peg Hays says while her distillery is known for making moonshine, it will also soon sell Kentucky’s signature spirit.

“Actually, we are making bourbon now, and we have bourbon laid up in barrels and racks, and we’ll be having our first bottling and we’ll have it on the market this December.”

Barbara Deeb

Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of the sinkhole that swallowed a portion of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, along with eight vintage cars.

Fortunately, the earth opened up early in the morning before the museum opened, and no one was injured.

Museum officials have capitalized on the geological anomaly, and have seen a growing number of visitors to the attraction each year.

On February 12, 2014, at 5:30am, officials with the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green received a call from their security company, and arrived on scene to find a 65 foot-by-45 foot hole in the floor of the museum Skydome. 


Kevin Willis

Kentucky distilleries are reporting another record year for bourbon tourism in the state that produces most of the world's bourbon.

The Kentucky Distillers' Association says tourists made a record 1.4 million stops at distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in 2018. KDA says that represents a 370 percent increase in the past decade.

KDA says the Kentucky Bourbon Trail logged 1 million visits for the first time since its creation in 1999. It says the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour — which includes smaller distilleries — tallied 340,000 distillery stops, the most since its founding in 2012.

Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

A new leader has been named for the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

When Sherry Murphy takes the helm, it will be a homecoming of sorts.  Murphy is a Logan County native and graduate of Western Kentucky University.  She says that she’s always had an eye on Bowling Green and what is has to offer.

"The number of attractions there in Bowling Green really makes it a tourism mecca of activity there," Murphy told WKU Public Radio.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky distillers, wineries and liquor retailers can now ship wine and spirits across state lines after the legislature passed the “bourbon without borders” bill earlier this year.

The new law will allow visitors to Kentucky to ship up to 4.5 liters of spirits or 4 cases of wine back home — as long as their home state allows it.

During a ceremonial bill signing on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin said the new law will help build the state’s signature bourbon industry.

Report: Kentucky Tourism Generates $15 Billion Impact

May 8, 2018
WKU Public Radio

The economic impact of Kentucky's tourism industry has jumped nearly 4 percent to more than $15 billion.

A report commissioned by the Kentucky Department of Tourism shows the industry supports more than 195,000 jobs across the state and generated $1.5 billion in taxes. Of that tax money, $202 million went to local governments while the rest went to the state government.

Kentucky.gov

The Kentucky Department of Tourism says a national study found the economic impact of outdoor recreation in the state jumped to $12.8 billion last year, up from $8.4 billion in 2012.

The study done by the Outdoor Industry Association also indicates that outdoor recreation in Kentucky directly supports $3.6 billion in wages and salaries from 120,000 jobs and provides $756 million in state and local tax revenue.

The Tourism Department said in a statement that the numbers show Kentucky is starting to position itself as a top-tier destination for travelers seeking outdoor activities. Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum says Kentucky offers outdoor recreation opportunities in communities across the state.

Lisa Autry

Bourbon, horses, and caves all helped Kentucky’s tourism industry post its strongest economic growth rate in more than a decade. 

Tourism had a $14.5 billion impact on Kentucky in 2016, up more than five percent from the previous year. Officials say it's the strongest overall economic impact growth rate since 2005, with each of the state's nine tourism regions showing increases. 

Following the announcement Monday at Corsair Distillery in Bowling Green, Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum credited the increase to marketing Kentucky as an ideal location for short getaways.

Buffalo Trace Distillery Welcomes 1 Millionth Visitor

Sep 1, 2016
Kevin Willis

Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky has reached a milestone by welcoming its 1 millionth visitor.

The distillery in Frankfort says the unsuspecting visitor, from Lexington, was greeted with cheers, a balloon drop and a special prize pack at the Visitor Center on Wednesday. The celebration continued throughout the day with cupcakes and commemorative T-shirts for employees.

Distillery officials have been keeping track of visitations since the facility first opened for tours in 1999.

They say annual visitations have more than doubled in the past five years. Last year, the number of visitors increased by more than 23 percent. Visitors regularly come from all 50 states and a number of other countries.

Marshal Ray

Southern Kentucky is seeing a huge boost in tourism spending. A new study shows a 10-county region including Barren, Logan, Simpson and Warren Counties had a nearly seven percent increase in tourism receipts last year.

The numbers come from the annual Kentucky Tourism Economic Impact Report released this week.

Telia Butler is a spokeswoman for the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says the spike in regional tourism is due in part to several new Warren County attractions and events.                     

“We’ve got the Mid-South Conference athletic  championships,” says Butler. “They announced their partnership with Bowling Green to host all kinds of their championships with sports at the beginning of 2015 and they’ve been here all year.”

She says new motor sports events also added to the growth in tourism. The first full year of operation for the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park drew a large number of visitors.

National Corvette Museum

A ten-county region in southern Kentucky is seeing the biggest increase in tourism revenue in the state.

The region including Warren, Barren, Simpson, and Logan counties experienced a 6.7 percent jump in tourism and travel spending in 2014 versus the year before. A report from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet says the state saw a 4.4 percent increase in tourism dollars last year. 

Telia Butler, with the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, says record-setting attendance at the National Corvette Museum was one reason why the southern Kentucky region saw its gains.

“We definitely can thank the sinkhole that happened in February of last year. They made lemonade out of lemons out of what could have been a very negative thing over what happened over there,” Butler said, referring to the sinkhole that opened up beneath the Corvette Museum’s skydome, swallowing up several vintage vehicles.

Far from driving visitors away from the museum, the massive publicity created by the story drew visitors from around the world to the Bowling Green attraction.

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