SOMERSET, Ky. — Just 80 miles south of the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, there’s a gorgeous Kentucky paradise where adventure and entertainment await.
Fishing. Watersports. Festivals. Fine dining and entertainment. In the Capital of Lake Cumberland, you almost forget you’re not at the beach and can’t believe a place this picturesque exists.
“Real life, unsalted” — an advertising campaign launched this fall by the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA), Lake Cumberland Tourism and See Somerset Tourism — will share this message during the next year with the more than 1 million travelers that move through this major Kentucky airport.
Four digital billboards rotating in the baggage claim area showcase Somerset-Pulaski County as a vacation destination that is just a short drive from Lexington. The ads, which feature photography of the area produced by Lexington photographer Victor Sizemore, direct visitors to Lake Cumberland Tourism’s website with a QR code to explore and plan a trip.
SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said he had discussed a partnership like this with local tourism professionals since SPEDA’s inception. Because tourism is Somerset-Pulaski County’s No. 1 industry, finding ways to reach new audiences and bring more visitors to the area — ultimately infusing more tourism dollars into the local economy — is an investment worth making, he said.
“SPEDA participates in many advertising efforts to share Somerset-Pulaski County’s story, whether we are highlighting our area as a destination or speaking to the incredible quality of life we provide for our residents,” Girdler said. “I am excited to now reach a completely new audience of people through this campaign, to share with them that the Capital of Lake Cumberland is a true gem in southern Kentucky and that the opportunities here for leisure and adventure are abundant.”
The campaign has only been live for two months and has already attracted interest nationwide. Travelers from as far as Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Wyoming have scanned the QR code — people who may not have otherwise been reached through traditional methods.
Finding those new audiences is crucial, Lake Cumberland Tourism Executive Director Michelle Allen said, which is why she has always wanted to launch an airport campaign. While so much work is being done by her organization annually to share Somerset-Pulaski County’s story across the nation, airports perhaps provide the most concentrated audience of travelers engaged in finding destinations, she said.
“The advantage of a campaign like this is two-fold,” Allen said. “People moving through Blue Grass Airport are already thinking about travel and looking for opportunities to see something new. If Lexington is the final destination for some of these folks, we have the unique ability to communicate that Somerset-Pulaski County is within a 90-minute drive and hopefully convince them to add our community as a stop during their stay.”
The campaign’s beauty is how it marries Lake Cumberland and outdoor adventure with the many amenities and activities in downtown Somerset, See Somerset Tourism Director Leslie Ikerd said.
“In Somerset, we are the lake, we are watersports, kayaking, hiking and biking, but we are also so much more,” Ikerd said. “We’re an incredible arts community with so many unique dining, shopping and entertainment experiences, and I’m thrilled to be partnering in a campaign that tells this story to travelers from around the world. And I am so grateful to Michelle Allen and Chris Girdler for their continued focus on partnerships that promote the community as a whole and help show others why Somerset and Pulaski County are so special.”
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