Category Archives: General

Lexington Tourism Continues National Momentum

Guest blog by Mary Quinn Ramer, VisitLEX

Lexington tourism is on a roll.  We continue the multi-year trend of outperforming the year before, and strategic efforts with local, regional and state partners further strengthen those successes. The proof is in our increased occupancy rates, national media attention and social media followers.

By choosing our community in increasing numbers, visitors are validating that the Lexington experience is outstanding. Our hospitality partners continue to provide unique, quality offerings that benefit both travelers and residents alike.

Top travel, leisure and lifestyle magazines are singing Lexington’s praises, which should help us continue to yield big dividends. You can’t put a price on that kind of publicity.

Here are some highlights from 2017:

  • Total hotel room revenue topped $190 million.
  • Zagat named Lexington one of the 30 most exciting food cities in America.
  • Vogue recommended Lexington as one of nine U.S. destinations to visit in 2018.
  • TripAdvisor designated Lexington as a Top Destination on the Rise.
  • Overall, Lexington garnered more than 1 billion media impressions. The community was featured in national publications such as Condé Nast Traveler, Men’s Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Southern Living and Architectural Digest. Much of this national earned media was the result of VisitLEX serving as host to more than 80 travel writers from across the country.
  • The Visitors Center introduced new merchandise, which resulted in a 37-percent increase in net sales, and it welcomed more than 24,000 visitors.
  • All social media platforms saw an increase and yielded more than 489,000 post engagements and 2.9 million video views. The use of #SharetheLEX content tags on Instagram saw the largest increase with an additional 145,000 tags for a grand total of 370,000 #SharetheLEX uses throughout 2017.

Mary Quinn Ramer is president of VisitLEX, Lexington’s convention and visitors bureau. 

Lexington’s Visitor Industries: Part 3

The Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet commissioned a study of the expenditures, employment, and tax impacts generated by the Kentucky tourism and travel industry, including information by county and region.

In 2016, tourists and travelers spent over $9.2 billion dollars in Kentucky, generating a total economic impact of nearly $14.5 billion and nearly $1.52 billion in tax revenue, including over $195 million for local communities. Nearly 135,000 jobs are directly supported by the tourism industry in Kentucky, with another 57,800 jobs created through indirect and induced expenditures for a total payroll of over $3.2 billion.

Lexington alone generated $2.05 billion in total expenditures, accounting for 14% of the state’s total.

Lexington is categorized in the Bluegrass, Horses, Bourbon, and Boone Region, along with the other seven counties of the Bluegrass Region (Bourbon, Clark, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Scott, and Woodford Counties) and seven other nearby counties (Anderson, Boyle, Garrad, Harrison, Lincoln, Mercer, and Nicholas Counties).

The Bluegrass, Horses, Bourbon, and Boone Region boasted the second-most direct travel expenditures in 2016, totaling $2 billion and accounting for over one-fifth of all direct travel expenditures in Kentucky.

The eight counties of the Bluegrass Region accounted for 20% of direct and total expenditures in Kentucky, totaling $1.9 billion in direct spending and $2.9 billion in total spending. Lexington received the largest share of spending with $1.3 billion in direct spending and $2.05 billion in total spending, accounting for 65% of the region’s direct and total expenditures.

VisitLEX is an important partner in bringing tourists, companies, and visitors to Lexington, helping our tourism industry thrive and demonstrating to people from around the world that Lexington is a great place to do business, raise a family, and to call home.


Lexington’s Visitor Industries: Part 2

VisitLEX, the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, recognizes the impact that tourism has on Lexington’s economy. In fact, total travel spending in Lexington exceeds $2 billion every year and the average convention visitor spends $290 per day compared to $130 spent by leisure travelers. Beyond these direct dollars, conventions and visitors support our economic development goals by providing effective outreach to executives, entrepreneurs, and companies, and promoting Lexington as a great place to live and locate their business.

VisitLEX’s program RecommendLEX focuses on helping organizations and individuals bring their meetings to Lexington. These Hometown Hosts are local meeting planners or members of associations and organizations who are passionate about showcasing Lexington and contributing to tourism and growth in the city. VisitLEX’s staff helps hosts to craft a unique experience that boosts attendance while also benefiting Lexington’s local businesses and tourism industry by providing their extensive expertise and resources, including hotel partners and availability, meeting space options and unique venues, destination videos, print material, electronic bid presentations, site visit coordination, VIP speaker gifts, and suggestions for tours and activities, to name only a few.

The ongoing renovation of the Lexington Convention Center is expected to boost tourism and Lexington’s convention industry by adding new exhibition, ballroom, and meeting space to accommodate more people and larger conventions. In total, the Lexington Center will be over 756,000 square feet, including 100,841 square feet of exhibition space, 25,080 square feet of ballroom space, and 14 meeting rooms.

VisitLEX and offer a wealth of information for visitors about things to see and do in Lexington and the surrounding region, ranging from horses, historic tours, bourbon, arts and culture, craft breweries, wineries, night life, shopping, golf, African American Heritage Trail, driving/cycling/walking tours, the “Big Lex” Scavenger Hunt, and a Mural Challenge, to name only a few ideas.

For more information about how VisitLEX can help bring your convention, meeting, or event to Lexington, call a VisitLEX representative today (859-233-1221) or check them out on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.


Lexington’s Visitor Industries: Part 1

Lexington is an established tourism and retail destination, boasting attractions such as Keeneland, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, UK Basketball, and the heart of the state’s horse farm industry. Key assets draw visitors year-round, such as:

  • Events and conferences at the Lexington Convention Center, which contains Rupp Arena and the Lexington Opera House
  • National and international events such as Alltech’s Annual International Symposium and the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championship.
  • The University of Kentucky and Transylvania University attract sports fans and parents visiting children.
  • Downtown is a recently revitalized cultural hub with attractions such as live music, art galleries, museums, theaters, and outdoor festivals.
  • Quality convention space at the Lexington Convention Center, adjacent to hotels and in a convenient downtown location.
  • Reliable workforce with hospitality experience.
  • Quality retail and commercial space, such as Hamburg, The Summit, and downtown.
  • Area aesthetics of our beautiful natural landscape, scenic horse farms, and hike and bike trails.
  • Lexington’s exceptional health care services draws people from around the state.

Over 46,000 people are employed in Lexington’s Visitor Industries, which includes three types of businesses: retail stores, travel agencies and convention center organizers, and venues for arts, entertainment, and recreation. Salaries range from an average of $43,000 to $18,000. Employment was steady between 40,000 and 41,000 from 2009 through 2012, likely as a result of the recession, but has quickly increased in recent years.

Growing the area’s visitor industries is an important area of economic development. Marketing the region for business or recreation involves many partners, namely VisitLEX, the Lexington Convention and Visitors Center. To help strengthen and grow these industries, Commerce Lexington Inc. and VisitLEX’s teams embarked upon a more formal partnership to develop strategies to recruit associations and business meetings to the area. Our teams meet quarterly to discuss various topics including infrastructure, marketing strategies, client feedback, incentives, and other items, as well as to review our strategic plan.

Check back next week for more about the Visitor Industries!

Lexington’s New Education Rankings

Lexington has again ranked among the most educated communities in the country, according to recently released U.S. Census Bureau data.

Compared to other cities in the United States with at least 300,000 people, Lexington ranks #8 for advanced degrees and #13 for bachelors’s degrees or higher. Nearly 44% of Lexingtonians aged 25 or older hold at least a bachelor’s degrees and 19.2% hold an advanced degree.

The Census Bureau estimates that 34% of degree-holders majored in science and engineering and 11% majored in science and engineering related fields, while 20% majored in business, 11% majored in education, and 24% majored in arts, humanities, and other fields.

Lexington’s number and percentage of degree-holders has increased overall in the past few years. Since 2010, the percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 3 percentage points and the percentage with an advanced degree increased by 2.6 percentage points. Although the percentages are small, these numbers represent an additional 11,000 advanced degree holders and 17,800 bachelor’s degrees or higher.

An additional 42,000 people are enrolled in college or graduate school, including 64.4% of residents aged 18 to 24, indicating that Lexington will continue to offer a highly educated workforce for all industries.