Las Vegas. New Orleans. Owensboro?

Kentucky town on list of top US destinations

OWENSBORO, Ky. – The city will be featured among 10 must-see destinations this year by a company that markets travel to and within the United States.

Brand USA will promote tourism to several major cities and states as part of a campaign that encourages authentic American experiences. Included on the list of 10 are Austin, Texas; Detroit; Miami; Las Vegas; Minnesota; Mississippi; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans; Owensboro; and West Hollywood, California.

“We’re hoping to put together a really big campaign behind that this spring,” said Mark Calitri, Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director. “Hopefully the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp. will join us. You just can’t buy that type of national exposure, and we’ll try to capitalize on it.”

Although it may seem Owensboro is a bit out of its league on the list, especially among major economic centers such as Detroit, Las Vegas and New Orleans, Calitri said the region is uniquely positioned in a part of the country Brand USA is targeting right now both culturally and geographically.

No longer are international travel agencies just pointing potential customers toward famous U.S. beaches or centers for meetings, incentives confer-

Owensboro’s Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s exhibit space includes six short films and dozens of exhibits that tell the story of bluegrass music including this Dobro guitar. PHOTOS BY GREG EANS/MESSENGERINQUIRER VIA AP

ences and exhibitions, he said. Rather, tourists are interested in seeing and experiencing the places and people that form a true American identity.

Owensboro – with the world’s only Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, its burgeoning bourbon economy and rich history in a particular style of European-influenced barbecue – might be just the kind of flavor those new types of international travelers are looking for, he said.

“We’re certainly the outlier on this list,” Calitri said, “but people are looking for something authentic and unique, and I think Owensboro has just that.”

Calitri said the convention and visitors bureau had partnered with the bluegrass museum, O.Z. Tyler Distillery and Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn to advertise those famous Daviess County institutions at the Evansville Regional Airport near a security checkpoint. By sharing resources, he noted, all the partners were able to keep their costs at a minimum. Daviess County Judge-executive Al Mattingly noted that a third downtown Owensboro hotel, the construction of which has been delayed, according to city leaders by a lack of nearby parking, may add to Owensboro’s popularity as a statewide destination for conventions once it’s built.

“It will change the landscape of the convention business in this commu-nity,” Mattingly said.

Calitri agreed, saying that construction delays have held the community back from even more tourism opportunities.

Messenger-Inquirer article written by Austin Ramsey.