The Western Lakes and Rivers Region reported a 1.8 percent increase in total tourism spending, jumping from just over $629 million in 2007 to $681 million in 2008.
Of the nine regions used by the Department of Travel, Western Lakes and Rivers was the only one to report an increase. The others fell anywhere from 0.5 percent (Lexington’s Bluegrass) to 7.9 percent (Northern Kentucky). Direct expenditures statewide fell 3.2 percent.
In that region, which includes 15 counties in far western Kentucky, Trigg County reported the third-highest increase in that same time period, jumping 6.25 percent. Trigg reported $19.8 million in total expenditures in 2007 and $21.1 million in 2008, seventh-highest in the region.
“The lakes area is very popular, plus we have the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state in Land Between the Lakes,” Cadiz-Trigg County Tourist Commission Executive Director Bill Stevens said. “When people come to western Kentucky, even if they’re not coming on purpose to see LBL, most of the tourist commissions around the lakes emphasize that, and that may have an impact on people staying longer or planning another trip here.”
Hickman County increased 9.5 percent, and Marshall County led the region with a 22.8-percent rise.
Trigg’s tourism economic impact ranks 53rd out of 120 counties in Kentucky.
Stevens said that ranking is fairly consistent with previous years for the county.
“The goal is always to increase that ranking,” Stevens said. “A lot of factors go into that. A lot of surrounding tourist commissions have a larger budget to operate from. Some have a transient room tax and a restaurant tax, and in most cases, that gives them about three times the budget that we have. We feel very good that with the money we have, we’re still able to show increases.”
Stevens said the numbers are reassuring considering the currenty state of the economy.
Said Stevens: “We feel very fortunate to have substantial increases in tourist-related dollars spent in our county during a time period which has been challenging economically.”