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Tourism numbers are looking up

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By Jesse Osbourne

 

More money is being spent in Washington County for tourism-related activities, according to numbers released recently from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. 

Direct tourism expenditures went up $101,340 from 2010 to 2011, according to the report. Over $2.6 million dollars were spent in 2011 on hotels, meals and fuel. 

Kathy Elliott, the Springfield Tourism Commission executive director, attributes the increase to the collection of the restaurant and lodging tax and the marketing that has resulted. 

“It’s the positive impact of our tourism dollars that is enabling us to market and do more things that are bringing more people here,” Elliott said. 

Being part of a National Scenic Byway has helped, she said. The theatre has also helped bring in out-of-town guests. 

“The theatre has been awesome for bringing people downtown,” she said.

She said you could probably attribute part of the increase to a better economy, as well. 

The restaurant and lodging tax, she said, is a user tax. As in, people can choose whether they use it or not. 

Elliott said the tax brings in about $220,000 a year. 

Half of that money goes to the City of Springfield, but must be spent on tourism-related purchases. 

The other half goes directly to tourism.

“Right now, we’re trying to get our infrastructure, like spending some money on the museums and trying to get things here for people to come,” Elliott said. 

She said she expects the tourism dollars to increase when the 2012 numbers are released. 

Washington County belongs to the Bourbon, Horses and History tourism region, which also includes Marion and Nelson counties. As a region, over $2.2 billion dollars were spent on direct expenditures in 2011, the most of any of the nine regions across the state.