By Rob McDaniel
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Last year, hotel room sales in Laurel County grew from about $12.65 million to $14.1 million, an increase of about 12 percent.
This increase is credited to a greater number of tourism events hosted, recruited and sponsored in Laurel County in 2013. According to the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission, 12 tourism events were held in 2013, boosting sales for hotels, restaurants and retail stores.
“Laurel County has 19 hotels with about 1,300 rooms,” said London-Laurel County Tourism Commission Co-Director Rodney Hendrickson. “Each month, the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission receives reports from each Laurel County hotel. In the past year, hotel room sales in Laurel County have increased from about $12.65 million to $14.1 million.”
Hendrickson said the reports indicate there was a major increase in hotel room nights during the months in which the commission hosted either a new event or saw major increases in participation of reoccurring events, such as the annual Redbud Ride.
The Redbud Ride, hosted each April, almost doubled in participation in 2013 with more than 1,100 riders. According to Hendrickson, during this month, hotel room sales increased from about $1.2 million the previous year to $1.4 million, an increase of 17 percent.
“Several months in which no tourism-related events took place, like late fall winter and early spring, we actually saw decreases in hotel room night sales,” Hendrickson said.
In August, Laurel County hosted the PNC Junior Golf Championship Golf Tournament for the first time.
“This was a national Sunday through Thursday event,” Hendrickson said. “The biggest increase in room night sales for the year was in August. In August, hotel room night sales increased from about $1.2 million last year to about 1.5 million, an increase of about 25 percent.”
The inaugural Kentucky Scholastic 3D Archery Championship in May, in addition to the large participation in the ASA Pro/AM Archery tournament that same weekend, result in an 17 percent increase on hotel room night sales from $1.2 million last year to $1.4 million this year.
Hendrickson also noted in June, the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission hosted the Kentucky State H.O.G. (Harley Davidson Owner’s Group) rally for the first time.
The Rally attracted about 1,000 participants, and resulted in a 15-percent increase in hotel room in June from about $1.3 million last year to $1.5 million.
A recent study conducted by VISA Credit Card Company revealed visitors spend about 9 percent of their traveling funds on hotels; the remaining 91 percent is spent on dining, retail purchases, transportation and other activities in the area.
“About 30 percent of that money is spent on retail sales,” Hendrickson said. “That money is divided among chain stores and locally-owned businesses. Another 24 percent is spent on dining; 21 percent is spent on other activities, including event registration, and 16 percent is spent on transportation.”
Although these percentages are based on national averages and not specific to London or Kentucky, it still means a boost for the local economy.
“For every dollar that is spent on hotel sales for families attending our events, $11.11 is spent on other things such as dining and retail sales,” Hendrickson said. “In other words, for the $1.45 million increase in room sales that London and Laurel County hotels enjoyed due to new or expanded tourism events, about $16 million was infused into other parts of our local London-Laurel County economy.”