(Frankfort, KY) Sept. 27 - As Hurricane Ivan ravaged the U.S. the second week of this September, Southerners and travelers to the region fled north to Kentucky to escape the devastation. In anticipation of an influx of people, KY Welcome Centers and State Parks made adjustments to their normal
business practices to accommodate those seeking assistance.
Ivan left his mark on the physical landscapes of the South, but he also brought people from all over the country together during a time of crisis. Stories started to emerge from some of the Welcome Centers. The centers encountered a great many people who were positive even in the face of uncertainty. One woman's home was on Orange Beach where Ivan hit hard. She said that she felt her home would be gone when she returned.
"She had a smile on her face but a tear in her eye. She was determined to keep a positive attitude," one Welcome Center manager said.
Sharon Finley, Department of Tourism Welcome Centers Manager stated, "We had individuals and families who did not know if their homes would survive the storm. We also had visitors returning early from vacations, looking for alternatives. In each instance, we showed our concern and provided the best comfort and assistance that we could. One Kentuckian spent the night before in a bordering state. He overheard other travelers talking at restaurants during dinner and breakfast about news of Kentucky State Parks offering discounted rates. He commented about the discounts and felt proud he was from Kentucky."
Kentucky State Parks offered discounted room and campground rates, while Welcome Centers along I-65 and I-75 interstates extended their hours and provided additional services and resources to travelers.
"Tourism is about making a difference in people's lives. It's about the feeling one gets when they visit our great Commonwealth," Commissioner of Tourism Randy Fiveash stated. "Whether it was on the agenda or not, many ended up in Kentucky during a traumatic stage of their life. What they will
remember and take back with them is the feeling of comfort they found and shelter from the storm."
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, to generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy. Tourism is a $9.3 billion business for Kentucky. It’s the state’s third largest industry and second leading employee.