Hank Phillips, president and CEO of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, was in town Thursday to present the KTIA’s Economic Engine Award to Daviess County.
“We’re presenting these to several counties where tourism is a prime driver of the local economy,” he said before making the presentation at the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Rooster Booster Breakfast at the Owensboro Convention Center.
In May, the state released figures showing that spending by visitors in Owensboro last year topped $310.7 million.
And the local tourism industry employed 2,078 people.
“That’s significant and then some,” Phillips said, “and you wouldn’t have those numbers without a strong convention and visitors bureau.”
Phillips said KTIA will be helping add numbers for Daviess County tourism in November.
The organization of travel professionals will bring its annual fall convention to the Owensboro Convention Center on Nov. 13-15.
It’s the first time the convention has been here since 2007 — a few months before the Executive Inn Rivermont closed.
“We’re expecting about 400 people,” Phillips said.
Mark Calitri, president and CEO of the CVB, said it’s important that his office and others in Daviess County continue to find ways to bring more people to town.
“It’s vital for the CVB to continue focusing in three strategic areas,” he said.
“We have to support attractions like O.Z. Tyler that bring state and national attention to Owensboro,” Calitri said. “We have to focus our sales efforts in attracting state association conventions and conferences. Filling the Owensboro Convention Center is a very high priority for us. And we have to uncover new opportunities for our sports market — such as the new sports study.”
In February, the CVB approved a $12,500 contract with Pinnacle Indoor Sports of Louisville for a study of the community’s needs for sports facilities.
Pinnacle recently completed its study, which included interviewing 51 organizations about the sports facility needs of the community.
It recommended that the infields of the four diamonds at Jack C. Fisher Park be replaced with artificial turf and that a 60,000-square-foot indoor sports facility be built in either central Owensboro or on the east side of town.
But the study did not provide cost estimates of the improvements.
It recommended against any new outdoor facilities.
Now, the CVB board will have to decide the next step the agency takes.