And for Louisville’s next attempt at capitalizing on bourbon tourism, Metro Government brings you a bourbon walk.
At a press conference this week, the city announced plans for its Bourbon District, a four-phase plan to introduce “historic site signs, destination signs, banners and a pop-up event scape” to create a walking path guiding tourists to bourbon attractions. It will be located in an area along Main Street from 10th Street to Jackson, and along Fourth from Main to Broadway.
In an interview, Mayor Greg Fischer said he takes satisfaction and pride in the 24 million tourist visits to Louisville last year, a number he said was not thought to be possible five years ago.
“Bourbon tourism is something some folks snickered at when we started talking about this, when I was running my first campaign,” he said. “But it is authentic to our city.
“People go to Napa for wine, they come to Louisville and Kentucky for bourbon tourism. I think we are really early in that game right now. It allows us to punch above our weight, especially in the restaurant category.”
The Bourbon District Project is being led by the Louisville Downtown Partnership, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and local government. The Kentucky Distillers Association is also involved in the project’s creation.
Fischer said the idea of creating a walking tour sets the city apart. He said there are plans for nine downtown bourbon experiences, with four already open. He unveiled the first historical marker on Main Street this week.
“It’s a walking district, if you will,” he said. “You can’t walk Napa Valley because it’s so spread apart. You can actually walk our Bourbon District. Back in the day of course, the bourbon would come down to the River, Whiskey Row, and be loaded on to the boats and off it went. So it just adds to our heritage and authenticity.”
The goal is to create a self-guided bourbon history experience on a path that will highlight the city’s other attractions, such as its restaurants. Fischer said that $9-10 billion in current capital construction is underway, and that 20 new hotel projects have been announced since the start of construction at the Omni Hotel.
The design of the District is being completed by Solid Light, a local company in the business of building visitor experiences.