- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear says tourism contributed more than $12.5 billion to Kentucky’s economy in 2013.

That figure is up 2.6 percent from 2012.

State Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Bob Stewart said Monday that the popularity of bourbon and an uptick in meetings and conventions will be key factors in Kentucky’s ability to attract more visitors this year.

Among the factors he says could lead to more tourism growth include a new convention center in Owensboro, the reopening of Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, the return of normal water levels at Lake Cumberland and the return of the PGA Championship to Kentucky.

An annual survey shows tourism was responsible for 175,746 jobs in Kentucky in 2013, up 1,740 jobs from the previous year.

Those jobs generated more than $2.8 billion in wages.

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