Is Eastern Kentucky the Next Gatlinburg?

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WSAZ & AP) - A tourism study suggests that eastern Kentucky could be developed like Gatlinburg, Tenn., in an effort to draw visitors from surrounding states.

The study, which was commissioned by a branch of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said that with the right mix of activities, the Appalachian region could become a "modern, well-planned Gatlinburg."

According to the chamber's website, one of the reasons for the study was because of the decline in the region’s coal jobs. The commonwealth has lost 6,000 coal jobs over the last two years.

The goal was to assess the potential for increased tourism in eastern Kentucky. A report shows the area is well-positioned for growth.

“A destination that features gorgeous scenery, bluegrass music, Kentucky bourbon, local arts and crafts and multiple outdoor recreation, shopping and dining options could be very popular among visitors from Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Kentucky,” the Chamber’s consultants conclude.

According to the chamber's website, "The study analyzes such national and state tourism trends as how far people are willing to travel for personal recreation, how much Baby Boomers are willing to spend, what types of recreation draw what types of visitors, the current mix of attractions in the region, the availability of broadband technology and the various restrictions on alcoholic beverage sales in the area."

The study looked at other regions of the country including Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee, Branson, Missouri, Wisconsin Dells in Wisconsin, and Bentonville, Arkansas.

The study offered ideas like outlet malls, regional resorts, waterparks and casinos.

To read more about the study, click the link below.

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