LOUISVILLE, Ky. (December 30, 2019) –2018 closed on a high note with the re-opening of the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) and the addition of the Omni Hotel Louisville, Old Forester and Rabbit Hole Distilleries paving the way for 2019 to start off with a bang. In the first quarter of this year, the city was recognized by CBRE Hotels Americas Research as having the largest year-over-year hotel demand. The accolades continued to pile-up with Louisville Tourism winning the “Convention & Visitors Bureau of the Year” in a secondary market by ConferenceDirect, a global meetings industry management company.
The city’s firecracker year also included the addition of hotels Moxy and Distil and the renovation of the Galt House Hotel to complement Louisville’s burgeoning hotel package, while new attraction openings included the initial phase of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens, Logan Street Market and a new face on Whiskey Row with the arrival of Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery. Additionally, the iconic Kentucky Derby Museum experienced a record year for attendance at nearly 243,000 visitors, an 11% year-over-year increase while KMAC achieved the highest national recognition afforded to American museums by becoming accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Louisville’s festival scene was on point with the addition of a third Danny Wimmer Presents festival, Hometown Rising, along with nearly 130,000 in attendance at the sixth Louder than Life festival -all held at a new location on the Kentucky Exposition Center’s grounds. Both Forecastle Festival and Bourbon & Beyond are currently in the running for Pollstar’s prestigious “Music Festival of the Year” distinction.
Raising the city’s international profile while also recognizing a hometown champion and humanitarian, the airport was officially re-named and re-branded to the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, celebrating all-time passenger traffic highs throughout the year. Meanwhile, the city picked up its fifth consecutive perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) scorecard, reflecting the city’s support of the LGBTQ community.
Louisville Tourism’s sales team closed out the June 2018-July 2019 fiscal year with a historic amount of booked room nights at 711,864, almost 57,000 room nights above the annual goal of 655,000. A secondary goal, the number of meeting planners hosted for site visits as they consider booking in Louisville, was also exceeded at 471 site visits to the annual goal of 280. Some of the more significant conventions the city hosted this year include the return of American Bus Association, Vex Robotics, SkillsUSA and the 50th anniversary of the National Street Rods Association while also hosting newcomers US Institute of Theatre Technology and meeting planner show Connect Marketplace, putting Bourbon City squarely in the national meeting spotlight during this industry conference.
“In order to capitalize on and maintain the strength of our city’s tourism industry, we are currently embarking on a Destination Strategic Plan aimed at continuing this upward momentum,” said Louisville Tourism President & CEO Karen Williams. “This plan is in progress and will allow us to continue to be a driving economic force in our local economy.”
All of these efforts gave Louisville recognition nationally as TripAdvisor put the city on two lists: “7 Rising U.S. Cities that Should Be on Your 2019 Travel Bucket List” and a “Top 20 Places to Visit in the U.S. in 2019.” USA Today listed Louisville as one of the “Best Weekend Getaways for Families in the U.S.” with Expedia adding Bourbon City to one of “9 Awesome One-Week Vacation Destinations You Need to Visit.”