LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Collier updated the commission on pending legislation that will cut tourism funds drastically by taking $9 million worth of restricted funds from the tourism industry brought in through the one percent transient room tax.
“It sets a bad precedent for the governor to take restricted funding away from the tourism industry,” Collier said. “Six million dollars that they’re going to take in this coming budget is there; it’s sitting there, the Department of Travel and Tourism was unable to access that money due to a spending cap that was put on the entire cabinet. The other $3 million that he is planning to take in the next budget hasn’t even been collected yet, so I don’t really know how you can call that a surplus when it hasn’t been collected yet. He is calling it a surplus.”
Collier explained the money is supposed to be used for state tourism marketing and that a loss of the funds will hurt smaller cities like London who fall short on marketing funds compared to other cities in the region.
“We get about $52,000 a year in our pot of money for marketing, so that will probably be gone,” Collier said. “It’s going to have a very negative effect on our industry and we really need to try to get the senate to restore that money and not let the governor take that.”
Chris Robinson, executive director of London Downtown, spoke about the upcoming, annual Redbud Ride.
“It’s been a long winter,” Robinson said. “People have not been on their bicycles, especially north of us. That’s where more than 75 percent of our people come from so registrations are down, but we still anticipate it to be our second biggest year ever with about 800-900. On the days the sun is out or a couple days in a row, you see registration go up. The long winter has definitely had an impact but we’re still going to have a great event.”