The tourism industry generated over $126 million
in a five-county area of Eastern Kentucky 2017
Carr Creek, KY - Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in Kentucky and vitally important to communities as an instant revenue generator. Small businesses represent 95% of Kentucky’s tourism industry, including retail, dining, lodging, attractions and events. In an effort to reach the growing tourism market, the Carr Creek Alumni Association has partnered with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) to create a virtual tourism visitor’s center for the region.
The online visitor’s center, visiteasternkentucky.org, serves as a portal for anyone interested in visiting Central Appalachia and encompasses the five counties of Knott, Harlan, Leslie, Letcher and Perry. Within the online portal, users can, not only discover what the region offers in the way of natural beauty, history and music but also arrange lodging, discover wonderful eateries and book guided tours in parts of the region. The website design has the end user in mind as visitors can easily find what they are looking for based upon the county they want to visit or the type of experiences they might have an interest in.
According to Glen Hale, Chairperson of the Carr Creek Alumni Association, The Carr Creek Alumni Association, owners of the old Carr Creek High School plan to convert the facility into a brick and mortar regional visitor’s center. The high school, which originally opened in a log structure in 1919, ceased to teach students in 1974. The spirit of the school is kept alive by the Carr Creek Alumni Association.
“We are excited about the future of Eastern Kentucky and the role we can play in developing new economies in the region while preserving the storied history of Carr Creek High School as part of the process. This website will serve as the foundation in bringing our plans to reality,” Hale said.
“We have already begun the preliminary design work, hiring the architectural firm of Richardson Associates Architects of Whitesburg, and have received a grant to fund an initial feasibility study to be carried out by the University of Kentucky,” Hale added.
The mission of the Carr Creek Alumni Association is to provide cultural, educational, economic, social and recreational experiences for the Carr Creek Community and Eastern Kentucky in order to sustain a healthy and wholesome life style that encourages cross-generational relationships. The Carr Creek Alumni Association is an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Carr Creek High School name and building. To meet this goal, the association is in need of charitable donations that will help them preserve the school and its legacy. It is the ultimate goal of the Association to preserve the building and make it a viable part of the Carr Creek Community as it once was.
Goals include the regional welcome (visitor’s) center, a museum that will highlight the heritage of Carr Creek, a community including such things as natural resources and our rich basketball history, a bed and breakfast, a restaurant overlooking beautiful Carr Creek Lake and a true Community Center that will be available for community functions.
The historic building, once known as the Carr Creek High School was the place where Kentucky and Carr Creek basketball history started; the legendary 1928 Carr Creek Indians that played their way to Chicago in the national championship, the 1956 team that won the state title and the 1963 team that won the Louisville Invitational Tournament.
According to a 2017 report conducted for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet, the designated tourism region defined as “Daniel Boone Country’ which all five counties in this initiative are part of, there were $548,155,901 spent as a result of tourism. The five counties represented here, Knott, Harlan, Leslie, Letcher and Perry saw $126, 441,767 of these dollars. Total expenditures for the state as a whole were $9,568,638,671, an increase of 3.8 percent over 2016.
“These are real and very important numbers, important to any economy. Through the growing efforts of county tourism efforts in the region and our new Visit Eastern Kentucky website we believe we can grow these numbers substantially in the coming years,” said Corbett Mullins, treasurer for the Carr Creek Alumni Association.
“Visitors continue to be drawn to Eastern Kentucky for the unique experiences they encounter here. We are very fortunate to have several distinctive brands in Eastern Kentucky that include nature, adventure, history and music,” Mullins added. “Continued growth in visitor spending is a strong indication of the popularity of those brands, as well as an indication that tourism will only grow stronger in the future with the addition stronger county and regional tourism initiatives,” Mullins concluded.
“The support that we’ve received from MACED to complete this virtual portal is key to growing tourism here – especially during challenging economic times, but additional support is needed from additional public and private sectors,” Hale added.
Donations to the Carr Creek project can be made securely through the Visit Eastern Kentucky Website, visiteasternkentucky.org.
For reference, The Economic Impact of Travel to Kentucky (2017):
A detailed examination of the expenditure, employment, and tax impacts generated by the Kentucky tourism and travel industry, as well as the industry structure, has been conducted for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet. The major findings of the 2017 study follow:
· The tourism and travel industry contributed over $15.0 billion to Kentucky’s economy in 2017. Direct expenditures by tourists accounted for over $9.5 billion of this total —an increase of 3.8 percent since 2016.
· The 2017 tourism industry generated over $1.57 billion in tax revenues to government - $1.37 billion to the state and over $202 million locally. This is an increase from $1.52 billion in tax revenues in 2016.
· All nine tourism regions showed gains in revenues between 2016 and 2017. The largest increase occurred in the Western Waterlands Region. It increased by 6.4 percent between the two years. It was followed closely by the Northern Kentucky Region with a 6.3 percent increase. The Daniel Boone Region grew 3.4%.
· A total of 195,503 jobs in Kentucky resulted from the industry in 2017—up 2,806 jobs from 2016. Direct expenditures created 136,907 of these jobs.
· The tourism-generated jobs provided over $3.3 billion in wages to Kentucky workers—an increase of $65 million from 2016 wages.