There does, however, seem to be a slight catch in that what one person might define as an adventure might not be to another.
An adventure is only in the eyes of the beholder.
The project is part of the state's “Kentucky Unbridled Adventure” campaign aimed at increasing the state's share of the adventure travel market, which according to Kentucky Tourism Commissioner Randy Fiveash, is one of the fastest growing tourism niches in the United States.
“We want to have a complete list of all adventure opportunities Kentucky has to offer so we can market them to the world,” said Fiveash. “When you think about all we have to offer, such as hiking, caving, rock climbing, kayaking, horseback riding water sports and nature watching we are in a unique position to draw thrill seekers from all over right here to the Commonwealth.”
What Fiveash failed to mention is the growing number of ATV trails, BMX/Motor Cross courses and skate parks. Without a doubt these three sports could easily be at the top of anyone's adventure list.
For several years the Harlan County area of Kentucky has been drawing ATVers from all over the county to tackle their miles and miles road course. And with some of the things going on in western Kentucky, they're not far behind.
“It's time we start asking the question: What does Kentucky have to offer?” said Vicki Kidd, executive director of the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association in Somerset. “If you think about it, adventure tourism is the thing that unites all areas of Kentucky and makes it a great destination for those in the market.”
Marcia Eblen, Henderson County's tourism director agrees. “Kentucky as a whole has diversity in its landscape that makes it one of the most beautiful and exciting places for visitors. From the mountains in the east, to the wetlands in the west, there's a whole plethora of opportunities ideal for outdoor adventurers. We're reaching out to an audience that will thoroughly enjoy every niche we have.”
A study released last August to determine the economic potential of adventure tourism just in eastern Kentucky, indicated increased spending on adventure tourism could bring in 130,000 new visitors a year, create more than 1,500 new jobs, and have an estimated impact of up to $100 million.
Now keep in mind there is much more than just identifying the venues and hoping the people will come. The state's real challenge is aggressively pushing this campaign forward with high-energy marketing, promotions, and an interactive website.
“Our area is where the bluegrass meets the mountains, where natural beauty and hiking trails, and adventure travel abound,” offered Belle Jackson of the Berea Tourism Commission. “We have the Wilderness Road and great trails. We are now telling people and inviting them to bring their adventure here.”
Fiveash, the state tourism commissioner, thinks that in order for this program to be successful, Kentucky's residents and tourism operators have to step out and make sure these “adventure” venues are identified and cataloged in order to properly promote.
“We want to hear from people all over the state so we can showcase our assets to the rest of the country,” he says. “We also want to have some fun by having adventure lovers rate their top destinations and let us know why they're special. For some people an adventure is a wild ride, while for others, it's a walk in the woods.”
If you know of something that is adventurous you are encouraged to go to www.KYUnbridledAdventure.com and register to receive additional information. Go ahead and give them the name and explain why you like it.
Get up, get out, and get going!
- Gary P. West can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his website at www.garypwest.com.