A new study on the impact of tourism in Kentucky shows that the industry has a nearly $46 million impact on the local economy, but Russell County Tourism Director Janette Marson said the impact is even more than that.
The study shows that tourism brings in roughly $45.75 million in spending to Russell County, but Marson said that number does not include spending from Russell County’s five marinas. She estimates that spending impact would increase by as much as $30 million if it was included in the study.
“Honestly, that could be another $3o million added into our economic impact so this report shows we did really, really well,” Marson said. “We did great in 2019.”
Employment is also a significant part of the tourism industry. The report showed 341 jobs as part of the tourism industry, but Marson noted that only includes full-time jobs. When factoring in part-time and seasonal jobs, Marson estimated that number to be roughly 2,000 locally.
The report also stated that more than $3 million in state and local tax dollars were brought in to the county through the tourism industry.
The biggest driver for local tourism economic impact in 2019 was the lodging industry. Lodging brought in more than $10.5 million while food and beverage brought in approximately $8.73 million and retail brought in approximately $6.45 million. Recreation was listed as bringing in $4.28 million but Marson noted that does not include the marinas.
“We have some great restaurants here,” Marson said. “We don’t have a lot of big restaurants but the ones we have, the mom-and-pop ones, people love to eat at.”
That economic impact is good news for Russell County, Marson said.
“Tourism really drives Russell County,” Marson said. “It’s exciting to see all this outside money, and I always like to add that with all this outside money coming in to Russell County means less taxes that we who live here have to pay.”