Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Tourism Plan for Eastern Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, August 28, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Chris Gilligan

Adventure tourism plan will include $523,000 for local tourism grants

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced more than $523,000 in grant money available to increase adventure tourism opportunities in eastern Kentucky.

The Governor announced the funding in conjunction with results of a study showing that increased spending on adventure tourism in eastern Kentucky could bring in more than 130,000 new visitors a year, create more than 1,500 new jobs and have an estimated annual economic impact of nearly $100 million.

“Eastern Kentucky offers several world-class places for people to take part in activities like rock climbing, whitewater rafting and trail sports,” said Governor Fletcher. “This new plan gives us a road map for successfully enhancing an existing industry that will bring new visitors, jobs and money to eastern Kentucky.”

The study, conducted by Pros Consulting, of Dallas, was funded by a 2006 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The study analyzed the region’s strengths, challenges and opportunities – environmental, political, and issues of community infrastructure and market appeal.

“A group of eastern Kentuckians involved in the development of the sKYward Trails concept came to Governor Fletcher and asked for funding,” said Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop. “He asked us what the return on investment would be and that information didn’t exist. So the Governor directed the Department of Tourism to produce this plan and now we have the information that shows that the trail systems are viable.  This will have such an impact on our area and for all recreational users in Kentucky and out of state. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Kentucky Recreational Trails Authority to get trail projects moving forward.”

The study focused on an 18-county pilot area: Bath, Bell, Breathitt, Estill, Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Pike, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Morgan, Perry, Powell, Rowan and Wolfe.

The report shows that 86 percent of the potential tourists who would take advantage of adventure tourism opportunities in Kentucky live within a three-hour drive of the study area.

“Eastern Kentucky offers a wide breadth of natural facilities that are ideal for this concept,” said Sen. Robert Stivers (R-Manchester). “I appreciate the Governor’s pursuit of adventure tourism for Eastern Kentucky, which will ultimately result in bringing jobs, people and revenue to our region.”

“It's exciting that our region will be part of a state initiative that could create opportunities for local businesses in the adventure tourism industry,” said Rep. John Will Stacy (D-West Liberty). “Showcasing our natural resources while improving our economic viability will have a positive impact on many eastern Kentucky residents.”

A copy of the consultant’s report can be found online at

EDITORS NOTE: Separate fact sheets contain additional detailed information on facilities, action plan and popularity of each sport.


Adventure Tourism - call to action fact sheet.doc

Adventure Tourism - general fact sheet.doc

Adventure Tourism - sport fact sheet.doc