Tourism 'trendingin right direction,' Calitri says

Mark Calitri, President/CEO Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Spending by tourists in Daviess County climbed 3% last year to $218.52 million, the Kentucky Department of Tourism said this week.

That represented a $6.31 million increase in money coming into the community.

"We're the sixth-fastest growing county in the state" in terms of tourism, Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Thursday.

"We're trending in the right direction," he said.

Calitri said sports tournaments, O.Z. Tyler Distillery and the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum are all contributing to the increase.

Brand USA, the marketing agency for American tourism, is promoting Owensboro internationally as one of its Top 10 American music cities.

Dave Kirk, destination management director for the CVB, said because that campaign is targeting international travel, it will be another year before those tourists start coming in large numbers.

But he said in September and December, familiarization tours for international travel companies will be visiting Owensboro.

Kirk said he wasn't sure where all the visitors are coming from.

But Brazil is on the list, he said.

Brazil is one of the countries targeted by Brand USA, along with the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Mexico.

Daviess remains in eighth place on the list of counties with tourism income.

But it slightly closed the gap on seventh-place McCracken County (Paducah).

McCracken reported $262.89 million in tourism last year -- down from $267.79 million in 2017.

The top tourism counties last year were Jefferson, $3.2 billion; Fayette, $1.29 billion; Boone, $1.2 billion; Kenton, $488 million; Warren, $386 million; and Hardin, $282 million.

Warren County's tourism also dropped last year -- from $393.16 million to $386.27 million.

In this region, Hancock's tourism revenue rose from $6.88 million to $7.18 million and McLean from $2.99 million to $3.43 million.

Muhlenberg's dropped slightly -- from $42.9 million to $42.49 million and Ohio's from $20.86 million to $20.76 million.

The numbers for all the area counties except Ohio and McLean were down considerably from last year's report.

It showed Daviess at $310.7 million; Hancock, $3.08 million; and Muhlenberg, $51.89 million.

McLean was listed at $2.35 million last year and Ohio at $14.7 million.

Calitri said the state hired a new company, Tourism Economics, to calculate the tourism impact for the state and each county this year.

"They use a better formula that's more conservative," he said.

Statewide, the report says 71.6 million people visited Kentucky in 2018.

"Tourism continues to play a vital role in Kentucky's economy," Jay Hall, acting commissioner of the tourism department, said in a news release. "The growth shown in this new report is a testament to the authentic visitor experiences offered across the state."

The report said the statewide economic impact was $11.2 billion in 2018.

Tourism accounted for 94,500 jobs statewide, it said.

An estimated 2,049 of those were in Daviess County.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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Mark Calitri

"We're the sixth-fastest growing county in the state" in terms of tourism, Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Thursday.

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