2019 was a great year for tourism in Daviess County, the Kentucky Department of Tourism said Tuesday.
The report said tourists spent $228.49 million here last year.
That was up $9.97 million from a year earlier.
And the 2018 numbers had been up $6.31 million from the previous year.
Local officials had expected 2020 to be even better.
Bourbon tours at O.Z. Tyler Distillery, events at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, ROMP, Friday After 5 and lots of tournaments at the renovated Jack C. Fisher Park were expected to bring large numbers of visitors to town.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.
Venues closed, festivals and tournaments were canceled.
And hotels have been struggling.
Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said local hotels had an occupancy rate of 46% in July.
That was down from 63% a year earlier.
Calitri said room tax receipts from the bureau’s 3% tax on hotel rooms brought in $24,548 in July.
That was money collected in May, when visitors to the city were scarce.
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That number was down from $60,833 in July last year.
Calitri said the average hotel room rate in the city has dropped 18% since last summer.
Lower occupancy rates and lower room rates are a tough combination, he said.
Tuesday’s report from the state said tourism accounted for 2,093 jobs here last year.
Across the region, it said, Hancock took in $7.1 million from tourism last year; McLean, $3.54 million; Muhlenberg, $42.9 million and Ohio, $22.82 million.
In 2018, Hancock saw an economic impact from tourism of $7.18 million; McLean, $3.43 million; Muhlenberg, $42.49 million and Ohio, $20.76 million.
With so many events being canceled, the CVB has been exploring new ways to bring people to town.
Last weekend, it promoted “Barbecue, Bourbon and Bluegrass” — the city’s first big geocaching event.
It was expected to draw 300 families from 15 states to Smothers Park.
Dave Kirk, the CVB’s destination management director, said he talked to people from as far away as Texas.
The CVB is planning another geocaching event next year and hoping to land GeoWoodstock XIX, the world’s largest geocaching festival, in 2022.
Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301 email@example.com