Louisville is already experiencing a negative economic impact from California’s decision last week to ban state-funded travel to Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer said today.
In a news conference at the Waterfront, Mayor Fischer, Karen Williams, President and CEO of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, COO for Greater Louisville Inc.; and other business and community leaders outlined concerns about the ban’s impact on the city’s tourism industry.
Williams said two conventions, one for 2018 and another for 2021, decided this week not to come to Louisville, citing concerns about the travel ban. Together, those conventions had an expected economic impact of $2 million.
“That’s $2 million that would have covered the salaries of waiters, waitresses, hotel staff, museum workers and hundreds more people who work downtown but live all over this community,” the Mayor said.
He added that any lost convention also means less money for the Tax Increment Financing district that helps fund the KFC Yum! Center and the new Omni Hotel.
And the potential economic impact extends beyond downtown, he said, noting that the 24 million tourist visits Louisville sees each year translate to about $3.5 billion in economic impact for the city and $14.5 billion for the state. And overall, Louisville tourism generates about $1.5 billion tax revenue for the state.
Williams added that Louisville’s commitment to compassion, fairness and equality “is a boost to our city’s economic development efforts, given that cities that are inclusive are increasingly winning in the competition for residents, businesses and employees.”
Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, C.O.O. of Greater Louisville Inc., also spoke during the news conference, noting, “Compassion and diversity are consistently embraced by Greater Louisville’s business, civic, and community leaders as keys to economic development and community building. We continue to market these and other assets to the world as we work toward advancing our mission of growing the regional economy.”