LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — VisitLex has done the groundwork to put Lexington on the map as a tourist destination. It's no secret 2020 has been tough, especially on downtown businesses who rely on tourists.
The Lexington tourist agency says they are trying to push Kentuckians to explore our own backyard while also pushing for a federal relief package for the hospitality and tourism industry.
For a hotel and event space like The Castle, the holidays are normally a busy season.
"I would say normally we have roughly 5,000-7,000 people coming through. We do lots of Christmas tours, we have brunch with Santa," Christie Eckerline, Chief Operating Officer of The Kentucky Castle, said.
Eckerline says overall, about 20% of events at the castle have been canceled. Eckerline says while the Kentucky Castle has taken a hit financially, they are trying to keep as much of their staff working.
"Our staff is constantly concerned if they're going to get enough hours, and to go with that, are they going to get their paychecks? Are they going to be able to pay their rent? Their mortgage? Buy food? That's what our big concern is," Eckerline said.
VisitLex, the city's tourism agency says Lexington has lost over $100 million in room revenue since the start of the pandemic and an additional $5 million in November.
Agency President Mary Quinn Ramer says a federal relief package is the difference between life and death.
"We've got tons of data from the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the attractions. We know that these next six months are critical for survival for these small businesses," Ramer said.
In the meantime, the tourist agency is reminding Kentuckians to shop local this holiday season.