Tourism economic impact rises

The numbers for the economic impact of tourism on Harlan County are in, and the county has seen a significant increase in tourism dollars over previous years.

“As soon as we got the numbers in, we were very pleased with the fact that we had an approximately $3 million increase for tourist spending in 2017,” Harlan City Tourism Director Brandon Pennington said. “If you look at the trend itself, we actually have over a $5 million economic impact increase from 2013 to 2017.”

Tourist spending in Harlan County totaled approximately $21,743,837 in 2013, Pennington said.

Pennington said largest increase was from 2016 to 2017.

According to Pennington, numbers from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet show Harlan County saw a total of $26,478,193 in tourist spending in 2017, up from $23,267,305 in 2016.

“A lot of that can be attributed to the tourism commission within the community working collaboratively and uniformly,” Pennington said. “We’re working every single day to brand Harlan County as a destination. We’re also working to ensure that the message we’re putting out there is the same message all across the board.”

Pennington said information provided by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet states visitors to Harlan County spent approximately $72,543 per day on average in the county in 2017. This generated approximately $11,939 in combined state and local tax revenues, created $1,536 in local tax revenues, $10,403 in state tax revenue and generated $25,138 in worker paychecks.

Pennington said it has taken the Harlan, Evarts and Cumberland tourism commissions working together to achieve the increased economic impact.

“I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’re really pleased with the results,” Pennington said.