Thayer Championed ARPA Funding Allocations to Help Tourism Recovery and Growth Following Negative Impacts of Pandemic Restrictions

FRANKFORT, KY (September 29, 2022) — Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, was joined today by fellow Kentucky General Assembly legislators and Kentucky's tourism and travel industry representatives for a $75 million ceremonial check presentation representing allocations made by lawmakers in the 2022 state budget.

"I'm delighted to be among friends, colleagues and those who go to bat daily for Kentucky's rich tourism industry," Thayer said. "From where we stand today on the front steps of our State Capitol, in each direction, you can find the picturesque horse farms people from across the world think of when they envision the bluegrass state and mere minutes away, Buffalo Trace is distilling one of many Kentucky Proud bourbons. I love this state and all the incredible aspects that make it unique. That is why I moved here 30 years ago. Kentucky has all I ever dreamed of."

In light of the negative impacts of COVID-19 and government restrictions devastating Kentucky's tourism industry, Thayer was compelled to take action to mitigate harmful executive policies and ensure the industry was well-equipped to recover and grow.

"Recall the early spring of 2020 when the pandemic forever changed our lives," Thayer added. "Our tourism industry was pushed aside, abandoned and all but forgotten by Governor Beshear, resulting in a loss of $3 billion to business owners and workers' livelihood that puts food on the table for their families and children."

Before the pandemic, Kentucky's tourism industry generated approximately $12 billion but fell below $9 billion amid COVID-19 restrictions, a 26 percent decline.

"I remember the moment when tourism in Kentucky went away," said Hank Phillips, Kentucky Travel Industry Association president and CEO. "The early vocal and influential leadership recognized we needed help market Kentucky's conferences and conventions, drawing more visitors to the commonwealth."

Prioritizing available ARPA funding, for which lawmakers bear sole responsibility, will help mitigate the damage the industry sustained.

"Thank you, Senator Thayer, for understanding the value of tourism to Kentucky's economy and the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 shutdown," said Lori Saunders, Georgetown/Scott County Tourism Commission executive director. "The closure of our state triggered an unprecedented crisis, a major loss with a far-reaching impact on the industry."


View today's event in full via the Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus Facebook LIVE stream here.


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