February 26, 2015
Today, the House Committee on Tourism, Development and Energy unanimously passed a resolution supported by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to initiate a study of existing and potential adventure tourism opportunities in Harlan, Knott, Letcher and Magoffin Counties. Pursuant to the resolution, the Legislative Research Commission would compile an inventory and examine the economic impact of adventure tourism businesses in the region, identify trends and available resources, and recommend ways the General Assembly can develop and promote adventure tourism in Eastern Kentucky.
“Eastern Kentucky offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the country,” said Grimes, “and I’ve had the pleasure of zip-lining down Black Mountain, hiking, and riding across much of it. Entrepreneurs are already coming up with ways to use the landscape to reenergize and revitalize communities in the region. This study will help us turn Eastern Kentucky into ‘Kentucky’s Playground’ and a true destination region for adventure tourism.”
Adventure tourism includes horseback riding, boating, hiking, rock climbing, bicycling, hunting and fishing, and ATV trails. It is estimated to generate more than $500 million in state and local tax revenue and is an increasingly vital segment of Kentucky’s tourism appeal.
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The counties that would be included in the study have laid a strong foundation for developing adventure tourism in Eastern Kentucky. For example, Knott County is home to the Artisan Center, Historic Hindman, and numerous outdoor events and ATV trails. Letcher County boasts the Pioneer Horse Trail and the Dawkins Line Rail Trail. Harlan County’s zip-line attraction is one of the longest in the country, and the Pine Mountain Trail, Trail Town Initiative, and ATV trails also draw visitors. Pioneer Village in Magoffin County also capitalizes on the natural intrigue in the region.
The Resolution is sponsored by Rep. John Short (D-Mallie) and Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville). Committee members shared their own adventures and thanked Sec. Grimes for her support for the resolution and Eastern Kentucky.
Rep. Combs applauded the resolution as an effort to “create opportunity for the people and the future of the region” and acknowledged that Sec. Grimes is “not just talking about adventure tourism, she’s actually experienced it personally.” Rep. Short noted the tremendous impact trail rides have had in his district, with more than 5,000 people visiting at any time. According to Rep. Jill York (R-Grayson), HCR 86 “begins the wonderful treasure hunt that needs to go on in Eastern Kentucky” so we can share the treasures there with the rest of the state and world.
“Eastern Kentucky needs our help to continue to diversify economies, create good jobs, and market and promote what is truly a special place in our Commonwealth,” said Grimes. “I am glad the Committee took this important step forward and urge the full House to pass this resolution.”