Lexington, Ky. – A new statewide trail plan has been released to help the Commonwealth’s robust and growing tourism industry.
The “Cross Kentucky Master Trail Plan” is intended to help communities develop and maintain different types of trails across Kentucky. It also catalogues existing and planned trails in the state.
“As a supporter of adventure tourism, I’ve advocated a trail system that would allow the hiker, paddler, cyclist or horseback rider to travel across Kentucky,” Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear said at a press conference. “This plan lays the groundwork for just that, and will help communities large and small as they work to develop trails and improve outdoor recreational experiences for citizens and visitors.”
The plan also supports the Kentucky Trail Town program, which is designed to help connect communities to trail systems and help develop them as tourist destinations. It will guide travelers to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services.
The Trail Town designation will help communities improve their tourism economy, add more jobs and create more tourism opportunities for the entire state. There are currently nine Kentucky Trail Towns, and more than 30 other communities working on the application process with the Office of Adventure Tourism in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
The Office of Adventure Tourism commissioned the trail plan, which will be distributed to cities, area development districts, convention and tourists bureaus and other groups interested in trail development.
Gov. Beshear, who appeared with the First Lady and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray along the Legacy Trail in Lexington, noted how adventure tourism plays an important role in the state’s overall tourism industry.
“Tourism had a $13.1 billion economic impact in Kentucky in 2014 and supported 180,000 jobs,” Gov. Beshear said. “We’ve shown some tremendous growth in tourism and hosted many events that have attracted visitors from around the world. I want to thank all of the people in the tourism industry who have worked so hard to make this happen.”
Beshear noted some of those special events include:
- The 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park,
- The Breeders’ Cup – three times, (The 2015 Breeders’ Cup will be in Lexington)
- The Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway,
- The Ryder Cup,
- The PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship.
“Lexington’s trails provide a connection between our city’s lively urban core and some of the most beautiful countryside in the world,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “They are attracting more and more visitors to our city. This new statewide trail plan will support our growing visitor economy and our efforts to develop more trails.”
Over the last five years, the economic impact from tourism in Kentucky has increased by more than $2.2 billion to $13.1 billion. The tourism industry has added 13,000 jobs during those five years. These jobs generated more than $2.9 billion in wages for Kentucky workers, an increase of nearly $123 million from the previous year.
Tourism generated $1.37 billion in tax revenues for local and state governments in 2014, an increase from $1.31 billion in 2013.
“This growth is a great sign for our state’s economic vitality, and demonstrates that the hard work of our tourism industry – at all levels – is making a difference in the lives of so many,” Gov. Beshear said.
Gov. Steve Beshear is highlighting Kentucky’s successful partnerships and the many accomplishments of his administration with a series of in-depth “About Kentucky” videos. In one, he and Mrs. Beshear discuss Kentucky’s booming tourism industry. Click here to view commentary.
Kentucky tourism supports Gov. Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The Governor launched kyhealthnow to build on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health, like reducing the rates of obesity and cardiovascular deaths.