Department of Tourism News Release
PROMISING START TO SUMMER TOURISM SEASON AT LAKE CUMBERLAND
Release Date Contact: Chris Gilligan
May 29, 2007 502-564-4270
Frankfort, KY - The preliminary reports are in and early numbers show a promising start to the summer tourism season at Lake Cumberland.
Data released today from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows approximately 223,000 travelers visited the Lake Cumberland region during the Memorial Day weekend, compared with some 243,000 in 2006.
Bill Jasper, who runs the State Dock Marina said, "We're as busy as we can be," and added that he had rented all of his ski boats and pontoons and saw a slight decrease in houseboats rentals. Overall, he estimates business was up 25% as compared to the 2006 Memorial Day Weekend.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism worked with local tourism offices in the region and with the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association (SEKTDA) to get maps and ramp information distributed at convenient locations around the lake. Vicki Kidd of SEKTDA said, "Late last week, we scrambled around getting signs and rack cards made on dialing 511 concerning Lake Cumberland and launch information. The staff went around personally on Thursday and Friday putting the information on various locations. Our preparation paid off because calls to the 511 information line doubled this year over last. That includes a 213% increase for Friday, an 85% increase for Saturday, a 70% increase on Sunday and a 115% increase on Monday over 2006 calls."
Parks Commissioner J.T. Miller said business at the four state resort parks in the Southern Lakes Tourism region (which includes Lake Cumberland) was roughly the same as in 2006. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park sold fewer cottage reservations but more lodge rooms, and overall Parks revenue for the region was higher than last year.
"After the dire predictions that followed the lowering of the water level at the lake, having a visitation drop of less than ten percent is unbelievably good news, said Tourism Commissioner Randy Fiveash. "Now we will go to work to alleviate all other misconceptions about the lake and get the visitation levels back to normal. Those who enjoyed the lake over the weekend said they didn't know what all the fuss was about. Once those people go home and tell their friends, visitation should grow considerably."
Governor Fletcher directed all state agencies to work together to enhance tourism opportunities in the region to counteract the effects of a lower water level. The Kentucky Commerce and Transportation Cabinets worked with Hilda Legg, Executive Director of Interagency Services for the Lake Cumberland Region and with officials at Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association (SEKTDA), to smooth the way for visitors.
Commerce Secretary George Ward ensured cooperation among all Commerce agencies. "Many of our agencies are actively involved in attracting and entertaining visitors to the water, as well as keeping them safe. This was a great display of cooperation and I'm pleased with the results."
"I visited several ramps and spoke with people from Richmond, Georgetown, Louisville, plus visitors from Ohio and Indiana and they were all very positive about their experiences" explained Ms. Legg. "The fact that we had online maps available of open boat launching ramps helped a great deal, plus we had the portable transportation information signs in the area plus a heavy call load to the 511 information line. I believe it was a great start."
Captain Tim Catron of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has patrolled Lake Cumberland for 18 years. "I've talked to a lot of people this weekend and everybody is tickled to death," said Captain Catron. "Most folks thought it was better than in years past, thanks to the extra attention and the weather. Based on what I heard and saw, I think when visitors go home and talk to their friends, people will say there is plenty of water and it is still an excellent time."
Reverend Gary L. Jackson agrees with that assessment. Rev. Jackson, pastor at the Friendship Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, traveled to Lake Cumberland for the weekend and upon his return, sent the Commerce Cabinet this message:
Please pass along to the Governor that the Cumberland Boaters and "Ohio Navy" is very grateful and appreciative of the response to the water level at Lake Cumberland. This past week was the BEST Memorial Day lake conditions I have experienced in the 19 straight years I have been there with my family. The Lord even blessed the Lake with His good weather. (The people of the church I pastor know I jokingly refer to Lake Cumberland as "heaven on earth"). I put in at Burnside Island State Park and the ramps were in perfect shape - I was amazed at the completion! It was apparent there was extra effort...Your efforts and information made it easy for me not to change my summer plans for Lake Cumberland and the first experience was BETTER than hoped for. You have an ambassador in Cincinnati and I will be encouraging my friends that have gone elsewhere to return to support the good people of the Lake Cumberland area.
"The summer vacation season is off to a great start, thanks to the efforts of Governor Fletcher and the loyal customers who returned to Lake Cumberland," said Hilda Legg. "Many boaters have been coming to this lake for decades. From everything we saw and heard this weekend, they plan to return and will tell their friends that Lake Cumberland has plenty of water to enjoy."