Guest speakers included the Beattyville Main Street Director, Teresa Mays who updated the lodging owners and local leadership on new business openings in Beattyville, the progress of the streetscape beautification project, upcoming events for downtown, and more. Following Mays, Mr. John Ott, board member and representative from the Diocese of Lexington, spoke about the history of the Cathedral Domain and how they have recently opened up their 800 acres to the public for hiking and rock climbing.
The event served as a networking opportunity as well as a platform for organizational transparency, as the tourism commission director, Dedra Brandenburg, gave an annual report on the previous year activities and finances, along with announcements of new openings and tourist activities.
There was a lot of river activity in 2017 for the commission and community. In the spring, the commission showed a documentary about the KY River by Herb Smith at the Three Forks Historical Center. In the spring, the commission also received a $3,500 Brushy Fork Flex-E Grant to do river trail development and have paddle trips over the summer. Over the summer, the commission hosted four paddle trips and had a total of 82 paddlers participate. The commission also partnered with the Area Technology Center who created and installed trailhead kiosk structures with maps of pool 14 along with mile markers of the river trails and access points along the river. In the summer, 12 racers and their land support crews, participated in the KR255 adventure river race which started in Beattyville and ended in Carrolton, KY at the Ohio River. In the fall, there were 115 racers of the Unbridled Adventure FIG Race who used the new ramp at the Canoe/Kayak Launch property located on River Drive in downtown Beattyville behind Jack’s IGA. The property is owned by Jack and Fonda Gross and is leased by the tourism commission and made into a public river access point.
Financials over the previous year were very positive to report also. According to the 2016 Tourism Economic Impact Study done by the state of KY, the Red River Gorge region consisting of 5 counties (Powell, Wolfe, Meniffe, Lee, and Estill Counties) grew 2.5% in travel expenditures (gas, shopping, dinning, etc.) from the previous year totaling $24.6 Million. Lee County alone increased 4.3% in travel expenditures in 2016 totaling in $3.74 Million and supporting 114 jobs in Lee County. 2017 numbers will be released by the Kentucky Tourism soon.
It was also reported that overnight stays at cabins and motels in Lee County grew 18% from 2015-2016. Over night stays reached a total gross amount of $1,565,000 at the end of year 2016. This number grew again by 13% in 2017. At end of year 2017, lodging sales totaled $1,863,000. Since the tourism commission was established in the fall of 2011, lodging sales has grown an average of 15% per year.
The Tourism Commission was established a joint ordinance between the Lee County Fiscal Court and the City of Beattyville. The ordinance also created a 3% transient room tax on lodging in Lee County, which funds the commission. The tax is charged to the tourist who visit the area and stay in cabins and motels. The tourism commission took in $55,900 in local tax for 2017. The current Beattyville/Lee County Tourism Commissioners includes Linda Smith, Don Begley, Teresa Mays, Fred Austin, Paul Vidal, Jessica Treadway, and Mike Stamper. To view all the lodging opportunities, attractions, and outdoor adventures in Lee County visit www.visitleecountyky.com.