Owensboro’s ‘Killer B’s’ are drawing tourists, Phillips says

If tourism was a basketball team, Kentucky would be on a long winning streak, Hank Phillips, president of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, told the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Rooster Booster Breakfast on Thursday.

“A big part of that is because of Owensboro,” he told the crowd at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Last year, Phillips said, every Sunday newspaper in Australia ran an article called “The New USA Bucket List: 11 Top Places You Need to See.”

Kentucky made the list.

And Owensboro was one of four “quaint townships” the article recommended that people visit.

Now Brand USA, which promotes U.S. tourism in other countries, has named Owensboro one of its Top 10 American music cities.

At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau will join with Kristen Branscum, Kentucky’s Department of Tourism commissioner; Brand USA officials; the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum; the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and others on the third floor of the Hall of Fame for the announcement of the marketing plans.

Mark Calitri, CVB president, said an online video of Owensboro — part of the campaign — has already had more than 2 million views.

“We’re out-performing all the other cities,” which include Las Vegas and New Orleans, he said.

“It’s a game-changer,” Phillips said.

He said the campaign is targeting people in Europe, South America, Central America and Canada.

“Folks, I’m telling you, this is big,” Phillips said.

He said Owensboro’s brand of bourbon, bluegrass and barbecue — “The Killer B’s” — is just right.

“Visitors are seeking authentic experiences that are compelling,” Phillips said. “And barbecue is the icon of Owensboro.”

Tourism doesn’t just create low-paying jobs, he said.

“Tourism fosters a large number of small businesses,” Phillips said.

Calitri said the number of conventions coming to Owensboro in 2021, 2022 and 2023 “are on pace for record-breaking years. The future looks really bright.”