Facts and Stats:
- The tourism and travel industry contributed over $15.0 billion to Kentucky’s economy in 2017. Direct expenditures by tourists accounted for over $9.5 billion of this total —an increase of 3.8 percent since 2016. The 2017 tourism industry generated over $1.57 billion in tax revenues and employed 195,503 jobs in Kentucky. This is an increase of 2,806 jobs from 2016 and in increase in wages by $65 million from 2016 to equal $3.3 billion in Kentucky wages for 2017. (Source: 2016-2017 Kentucky Tourism Economic Impact Study released in May 2018)
- The Daniel Boone Country Region, made up of 18 counties -including Lee, Powell, Wolfe, Estill, and Menifee Counties that make up the Red River Gorge Area- generated $548 million in travel expenditures for 2017, an increase of $18 million from 2016. In one year the Daniel Boone Country Region grew in travel expenditures by 3.4 percent.
- The Red River Gorge area receives— a conservative estimate of — 500,000 tourist per year. These 5 surrounding counties combine (Lee, Powell, Wolfe, Estill, and Menifee) generated $27.1 million in travel expenditures in 2017. This is an increase of $2.5 million from 2016. (Source: 2016-2017 Kentucky Tourism Economic Impact Study released in May 2018)
- In 2017 economic activity in Lee County generated $2.4 million in direct tourist spending and $3.8 million in total tourist spending. This is an increase of 9.7% from 2016. Tourist activities in Lee County supported 121 jobs and products $804 million in worker income in 2017. Tourism related businesses in Lee County created 7 new jobs.
- The Beattyville/Lee County Tourism Commission is funded by at 3 percent transient room tax. Transient lodging in Lee County such as cabin rentals, hotels, AirB&B units, and Bed & Breakfast, have grown an average of 15 percent per year since the tourism commission was actively collecting tax information starting January 2012. Lee County has a total of 105 lodging units with 53% in the form of cabin rentals and 46% in the form of hotel room rentals. From 2017 to 2018 there have been 13 lodging units added to the transit tax collective.
- As stated previously, Lee County lodging sales have grown an average of 15 percent per year. At the end of 2013 the lodging sales went over the $1 million mark. Now at the completion of 2018, lodging sales have went over the $2 million mark. Lodging in Lee County made $2,023,187 in sales for 2018. This equals an intake of $60,966 in local taxes.
Below are a few graphs illustrating the seasonality of tourism in Lee County based on lodging sales and the total growth over time. In 2018 (yellow line graph) there was a large peak in spring following by steady growth from May through July then a decline until September followed by a very large peak in October. The second and third quarters for 2018 was the best performing summer stretch, compared to the same months in previous years. Also 2018, had the best October that Lee County had ever experienced for lodging sales totaling $245,833. That averages to over 1,600 night stays in the month of October alone, based on an average night stay of $150 per night.