Lexington, KY -- VisitLEX today released the findings from the first phase of the community’s destination development plan. These findings inventory all Lexington has to offer -- what is going well, what’s needed, what’s missing, and what could be leveraged or packaged to create maximum impact.
When complete, the plan will determine priorities in those areas and actions steps to implement them.
Today’s findings are the result of research conducted by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL), a leading consulting firm that has done other projects in Lexington. They interviewed more than 80 local stakeholders, tour operators and non-local meeting planners; contacted tourism officials in 10 comparable destinations; surveyed more than 40 national Travel Writers and surveyed 275 residents of the region.
“For the first time ever, total travel spending in 2015 topped the $2 billion mark in Fayette County,” said Mary Quinn Ramer, president of VisitLEX. “It took collaboration and a concentrated effort to achieve that milestone. But we believe even greater things are in store for Lexington – with the proper planning. That’s why VisitLEX is leading an effort to create a destination development plan for the entire community.”
This type of planning, which hasn’t been done in Lexington since the 1990s, has yielded tremendous results for other cities.
The findings identified seven key areas and outlined potential strategies in each, many of which involve more hands-on, experiential opportunities:
- Further developing the equine tourism through partnerships, packaging tours and hands-on experiences.
- Leveraging the bourbon industry, particularly through the Bourbon Trail, the urban core and in conjunction with equine tourism.
- Leveraging outdoor opportunities though public-private partnerships and packaging with other attractions.
- Events and festivals through developing a new citywide festival.
- Transportation improvements through a low-cost, heavily marketed option that efficiently moves visitors to various areas.
- Defining downtown for the visitor through improved way-finding and pedestrian improvements/amenities.
- Downtown development through ideas such as themed sections, a public market, unique craft foods/products and interactive attractions.
John Kaatz, principal at CSL, stated: “The Lexington market area offers such a diversity of unique and authentic assets – starting with Equine and Bourbon, expanding to include outdoor adventure, festivals and an active and vibrant downtown. As these assets are developed and marketed, opportunities exist to support a much broader visitor base, regionally, nationally and even internationally. It has been our pleasure working with Mary Quinn, her staff and stakeholders throughout the community.”
The next step in the process is for the VisitLEX Commission to meet, alongside stakeholders, in early 2018 to review the information and establish priorities.
VisitLEX is a destination sales, marketing, and service organization charged with promoting Lexington's Bluegrass Region for the purpose of attracting visitors and growing the economy. For more information: www.visitlex.com