Following a record year in 2015 as a result of hosting the 2015 Breeders' Cup, Lexington still managed to increase room revenue and tax revenue in 2016. Total room revenue topped $182 million and total tax revenue collected rose to $12.5 million for the year.
"Lexington continues to gain momentum as the destination for convention and leisure travel," said Mary Quinn Ramer, president of VisitLEX. "Throughout the previous year, our sales team has worked diligently to discover new meetings and conventions to bring to Lexington. Of the 416 leads we distributed, 65 percent represent brand new lead opportunities."
Local pride and homegrown innovation continue to reshape and evolve Lexingotn's dining, bourbon and craft beer scenes, inspiring more visitors and garnering attention from national publications. Two initiatives were launched to increase the local impact of tourism.
VisitLEX and Bluegrass Farm to Table added a new designation for the Beyond Grits dining guide to highlight restaurants that source food products directly from Kentucky farms. In all, 24 restaurants spent $890,539 in local farm spending in 2016.
In addition, ShareTheLex.com launched as an inspiration and planning tool for visitors that showcases curated local guides, featured articles and more surrounding the best of Lexington. More than 225,000 #sharethelex uses were recorded on Instagram.
Here are some additional highlights from 2016:
• Convention sales distributed 416 leads representing 242,347 rooms.
• There are now nine bourbon distilleries within 35 miles of downtown Lexington, and the Brewgrass Trail now has 11 craft breweries, up from nine in 2015.
• VistiLEX initiated more than 100 journalist meetings, which resulted in 745 million media impressions and 175 placements in national media outlets such as Bazaar, Forbes, Conde Nast Traveler, Southern Living, The Huffington Post, inStyle, Travel + Leisure, Men's Journal, redbook, Architectural Digest and USA Today.
• Social media grew by double and triple digits: Instagram, 144 percent; Facebook, 20 percent; and Twitter, 13 percent. There were more than 240,000 post engagements and 1.5 million total video views.
• The Visitors Center introduced new merchandise, resulting in a 45 percent increase in total net sales, which will bring the Lexington brand back to those visitors' hometowns. There were 25,391 total visitors to the center, which built upon the 23.5 percent growth of 2015.
"VisitLEX is excited to partner with so many outstanding local organizations, businesses and attractions to bring tourism to our community and region," Ramer said. "Long-lasting benefits are realized from tourism dollars, which also provide valuable resources to invest back into our community, help improve the quality of life for all our residents and make our daily lives richer."
Visit http://www.visitlex.com/2016/ to check out more statistics or download the infographic.