Tourism leaders: ‘Derby is our tipping point’

Tourism leaders: ‘Derby is our tipping point’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Reservations are being made, parties planned, and local restaurants are gearing up for Derby weekend.

“We have a great crowd,” Volare Managing Partner and General Manager Jonathan Tarullo said. “We have a lot of people coming out.”

Volare is often a hot spot come Derby weekend. The chef said certified Angus beef and truffles flown in from Italy are on the menu.

The restaurant added both locals and visitors are making reservations.

“Oakes Day is very busy for us, Derby is filling in,” Tarullo said. “We’re still taking reservations for Wednesday and Thursday.”

He added numbers are not where they were for 2019, but Tarullo said he expects Derby to be a shot in the arm for local tourism.

“Derby would be a natural turning point for Louisville, Kentucky, specifically,” he said. “Derby is the most exciting time for the hospitality industry.”

And Louisville’s tourism leaders agree that the Derby should spark the tourism engine once again.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Louisville Tourism President and CEO Karen Williams said. “I feel like really Derby is our tipping point to turn the corner to start seeing business come back on a more gradual basis.”

Williams said over the past few weeks, there has been a gradual resurgence in visitors coming back to the metro. She added that approximately $35 million in economic impact should infuse the industry.

“That’s people in hotels, people in restaurants and in Ubers, Lyfts and taxis,” Williams said.

Tourism leaders also said that capacity limits in restaurants, hotels and venues play a big role in the economic impact generated by the Derby this year.

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