Tourism spending in Daviess County climbed 3% in 2018, totaling $218.52 million.
Capitalizing on that growth means striking while the iron is hot and making sure that Owensboro-Daviess County has as much exposure as possible, said Dave Kirk, Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) destination management director.
A major area of focus in terms of educating newcomers to the bounty of activities in the area is through the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport. And at 10 a.m. on Thursday, officials from CVB, Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Young Professionals and the airport will hold a ribbon-cutting to highlight the collective efforts of each organization to aid Airport Director Rob Barnett in making the airport a gateway to Owensboro, Kirk said.
“Rob (Barnett) is doing a great deal of modernization projects to make the airport more attractive,” Kirk said. “With flights opening up to Nashville and the continued routes to St. Louis, we wanted to invest in his efforts and make sure that any upgrades we can help make are done. We want to make sure that people are hit with kinds of tourism messaging when they come in and out of the airport so they know what is going on. That is a major reason that all of these different groups have invested time and resources into it.”
The new installation above the airport’s baggage carousel marks the first aesthetic overhaul of the space since 2012. The new installation will boast new photos of various area events as well as a 76-inch flat-screen television that will play video footage of O.Z. Tyler, the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Friday after 5, Live on the Banks, and other festivals and events.
While 2018 was a record-breaking year for county tourism, it was also a banner year for the airport, which saw roughly 10,557 Owensboro-based passengers utilize the space. The community organizations involved in Thursday’s ribbon-cutting hope that the installation will aid in the overall long term tourism plan, Kirk said.
“Anytime we can get more flights, the better it is for Owensboro,” he said. “Tourism is definitely taking off, especially with O.Z. Tyler jumping onto the Bourbon Trail and the Bluegrass Museum opening. Those two destinations really helped us gain a lot of attention. The Nashville flights make the potential of getting even more artists into the area that much greater and more convenient. They will definitely open up a great many doors for Owensboro. We are all really looking forward to the future of the area and the airport.”