Mixed tourism results create a struggle for local counties
LIVINGSTON COUNTY, KY -
June 21st is the official first day of summer, but people working in the tourism and travel industry say they're ready for the season to start.
Many outdoor attractions in the area are behind because of the cold and long winter, but they're hoping to make up for it between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Campsites and marinas are opening up on the heels of some mixed news from the Kentucky Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The 15 counties that make up the western waterlands saw almost a 3 percent increase last year in direct travel expenditures, but some individual counties in the area saw losses.
One that might surprise you is Livingston County, where many people rely on the lakes for their livelihood.
Though summer is the money season, Marinel Larkin works all year long at a tourism information center to keep people coming to Western Kentucky.
"You just have to find out what they're looking for, then Western Kentucky has everything so we just do the best we can to match it up," Larkin said.
It's a job she admits saw losses, but it's not all bad news. Advertising, marketing, and selling Western Kentucky's strong points is still her focus. Larkin says when it comes to drawing people in, it's all about location -- and the lakes are a big hit with tourists.
Bill Gary IV with Green Turtle Bay says they didn't feel last year's tourism dip, but they have felt the slow, trickling transition from winter to spring.
"It's been kind of a late start, but there's a pent up demand," Gary said. "Bookings for condos and slips, and for people wanting to come here for the season is actually up," he added.
That's good news that Gary says goes beyond Green Turtle Bay, to an area Larkin says is an easy sell.
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