LEXINGTON --  Lexington is celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week, which runs through May 25, by recognizing the many ways tourism fuels the economy and the people who make it happen.

“Tourism supports our local businesses and attractions. It also improves our quality of life,” said Mary Quinn Ramer, president of VisitLEX.

According to a Kentucky Department of Tourism study (by Tourism Economics/2022), Fayette County tourism generated $1.5 billion in economic impact, providing more than 11,000 local jobs. Statewide, tourism is the third largest industry.

“Behind those numbers is a lot of hard work from all of our hospitality employees and business owners, as well as the strategic sales, marketing, services and media efforts of the VisitLEX team,” Ramer said.

It’s the main reason VisitLEX recently hosted its annual Lexington Hospitality Awards, which honors front-line staff and volunteers in the tourism industry who have demonstrated exceptional service. There were 25 Service Excellence Award Winners honored at this year’s event. 

“These are non-managerial staff who are the unsung heroes of hospitality for our community,” Ramer said.

Moreover, 29 Hometown Hosts also were honored for their role in bringing more than 28,000 visitors and $15 million in economic impact to the Bluegrass region. These hosts helped bring a variety of events and meetings to Lexington – from sporting events to national conferences to professional conferences.

"I am still overwhelmed by it all! I still can't believe my name was called." said Shjanita Johnson from The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center and one of the Service Excellence Award Winners, "But I am grateful. I'm literally still in shock. Thank you VisitLEX."

In addition to providing jobs and attracting investment and spending, here are four examples of how tourism benefits the Lexington community:

  • The state and local taxes generated by tourism equate to a $536 tax savings for every household, according to the 2022 study by Tourism Economics.
  • The VisitLEX team annually books more than $40 million of economic impact to Lexington from meetings, conventions, sports and equine groups.
  • VisitLEX, alongside tourism and hospitality partners in the community, support numerous events that local residents enjoy and improve the quality of life. Recent support has included: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration activities, FoodChain (Nourish and FEAST), The Lexington Children’s Museum, The Lexington Theater Company, Black Soil KY, Black Yarn Productions, Legacy Equine Academy, Bike LEX, DV8 Vocational Training Foundation, Pride Festival, The Lexington Philharmonic, LexArts, Lexington African American Sports Hall of Fame, and the African-American Heritage Walking Tour.
  • Tourism-related media coverage initiated by VisitLEX helps put the community on the map. In 2017, VisitLEX kicked off a national PR strategy which includes pitching stories via our PR partner and hosting journalists. In recent years, earned media efforts have resulted in more than 10 billion impressions with an estimated ad value of more than $350 million. In addition, stories have been featured in The Washington Post, CNN, USA Today, New York Post, Forbes, Huff Post, People, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Toronto Sun, the Globe and more.

“With school ending and summer weather approaching, now is the time for Lexingtonians to get out and about -- visit an attraction, try a new local restaurant, or shop at a locally owned store. The summer is a wonderful time to be a tourist in your own hometown,” Ramer said.