Economic Impact of 2010 World Equestrian Games Revealed

The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington had an economic impact of $201.5 million, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced today.

"The World Equestrian Games were indeed a success and this report illustrates the positive result that our local and state governments, our sponsors, the many volunteers, the business community, and the citizens of the Commonwealth working together can have," Gov. Beshear said. "It also underscores the important role of the Kentucky Horse Park and the legacy the games will have for future years."

Gov. Beshear; First Lady Jane Beshear; Alltech founder Pearse Lyons, PhD, DSc; Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow; and Kentucky Horse Park Executive Director John Nicholson participated in the announcement today (June 27) at the Kentucky Horse Park.

"The World Equestrian Games was a unique opportunity to reaffirm our standing as 'Horse Capital of the World,' as well as promote tourism and business in Kentucky," said Jane Beshear. "To witness the event firsthand, from its inception to the closing ceremony of the final day, I am thrilled with its success and want to thank everyone who took part in creating and executing such a tremendous, historic event for our state."

The Alltech World Equestrian Games were held Sept. 25-Oct. 10, 2010, the first time the international event had been held outside of Europe. The games are comprised of eight events: dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, para dressage, reining, and vaulting.

According to the report commissioned by the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, the Alltech World Equestrian Games Foundation reported that it sold or provided complimentary tickets to 419,853 visitors. They came from 63 countries and all 50 states.

The economic impact took into account "direct" spending that accounted for $128.2 million. This includes guest spending at the Horse Park, lodging, restaurants, shopping centers, and retail outlets.

It also considered "indirect" spending--$73.3 million--such as money spent for food and lodging suppliers, construction, and other services that were needed to support the influx of guests.

The report found that $55.4 million was spent on tickets, food, souvenirs, and other items at the event, while $39.6 million was spent on lodging. The games also generated nearly $18.4 million in state taxes and nearly $4.6 million in local taxes, the report said.

"While these financial impact numbers are quite impressive and stronger than even anticipated, the impact extends far beyond the monetary evaluation," said Lyons. "For years to come, our community will reap the benefits of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, from a new sense of community pride to statewide improvements and infrastructures that continue to drive tourism today."

The study was conducted for the cabinet by Certec Inc. of Versailles. Information for the study was supplied by the World Games 2010 Foundation Inc., the Kentucky Horse Park, and the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet. The report is available online.

"The investment Gov. Beshear and the legislature made here at the Horse Park has already made this facility the best in the nation for equine-related events and organizations," Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said. "The visibility the Games brought to our city and the investments the state made in Lexington to help our city host the Games--road improvements, a much improved gateway into our city and a new runway at the airport--have elevated Lexington's brand as the 'Horse Capital of the World.' The legacy and the economic impact of the Games have been remarkable."

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games had a direct impact on passenger travel at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport. In October 2010 passenger enplanements increased by 39% from the previous year, according to the airport's 2010 annual report.

The airport and its partners hosted more than 700 private and corporate airplanes, provided security for international dignitaries, welcomed more than 460 international athletes and facilitated 18 special event charter flights, said Eric Frankl, executive director at Blue Grass Airport.

"It was a privilege for the airport to serve as the gateway to central Kentucky for World Equestrian Games visitors," he said. "The airport experienced one of its busiest months in airport history as a result of the collaborative effort put forth by our airlines, airport partners, and staff to successfully handle an event of this magnitude."

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