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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

NKY Tourism Looks To Get Back On Track In 2021

Kentucky tourism leaders say it will take awhile to recover from the loss in business and they are trying to build back consumer confidence.

As a new Kentucky tourism ad campaign gets underway this week, the state realizes it must be patient. The numbers are slowly coming back and the industry is looking toward the spring of 2021.

"Our industry was hit fast and very hard," says Mike Mangeot, commissioner of the Kentucky Cabinet for Tourism, Arts and Heritage. He told participants on a https://vimeo.com/448912498" target="_blank">Northern Kentucky Chamber webinar Tuesday that tourism makes up 18% of the state's economy.

That translates into $2 billion for Northern Kentucky with $100 million in state and local taxes.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau's Julie Kirkpatrick says many people are hurting because of the effects of COVID-19 on the economy. "It's a little big of a gut punch with what is going on in the industry, but I also want to say it's inspirational because we will get back there."

While golf courses, campsites and lodges are crowded, a lot of other destinations and attractions are not.

Kirkpatrick says COVID's impact on NKY tourism is:

  • April down 75%
  • May down 70%
  • June down 60%
  • July numbers expected soon, projected to be down 45-50%.

The convention center hasn't hosted an event since March 11 and lost more than $1 million in just a few months. The center's Gretchen Landrum says when events cancelled they didn't just go away. "Their response to us was, 'We can't do this right now but we intend to do it.' "
She's in the process of rebooking groups for later this year or next year.

"Once we cross the threshold of people being comfortable coming indoors for an event, that's the largest step," says Landrum.