April 28, 2014 – Louisville leaders are hoping to capitalize on the boom in Bourbon sales worldwide by adding new opportunities for visitors to the city, which already counts 4,200 Bourbon-related jobs and an economic impact of more than $300 million each year. Mayor Greg Fischer’s task force, known as the Bourbon & Food Work Group, released a report today suggesting six key areas to focus the city’s tourism and convention marketing efforts in promoting Bourbon-related economic development. The suggestions range from training programs for hospitality industry workers to the construction of a Bourbon-themed visitors center on Main Street.
“Fortune Magazine recently said we’re in a ‘Billion-Dollar Bourbon Boom’,” Fischer said in a news release. “But while trends come and go, bourbon is a proud part of Louisville’s history, a big part of our present and, with this plan, will be an even bigger part of our future. This is our chance to increase the momentum so that Louisville and bourbon are as classically paired as Napa Valley is to wine.”
It’s just a unique time to be in Kentucky, and especially Louisville,” said Stacey Yates of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau in a telephone interview. “The amazing development that we’ve seen over the past decade with premiumization of the product and the things that the Bourbon industry has continued to do and the global demand being what it is, combined with the more recent tourism effort to tell people that this is indeed the homeplace of Kentucky Bourbon…it’s sort of been the perfect storm over the last several years.”
Listen to Mark Gillespie’s entire interview with Stacey Yates:
One key tourism development proposal featured in the report is the potential to expand the Kentucky Bourbon Affair into a “signature Bourbon and Food Festival” starting in 2015. The Kentucky Distillers Association is sponsoring the first Bourbon Affair next month, with events in Louisville and at the KDA’s member distilleries stretching from Lexington to Loretto. KDA officials have expressed interest in making the Bourbon Affair an annual event, based on the demand for tickets so far. The report also recommends a larger Bourbon-themed presence at Louisville International Airport, which currently has only a Woodford Reserve-themed bar and restaurant and display ads for a number of Bourbon brands.
The city will take public comments on the report until May 31, and Fischer hopes to implement suggestions with support from the Bourbon industry, the local restaurant industry, and the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau. The report is available online.
Editor’s note: This story was updated following an interview with Stacey Yates of the Louisville CVB.