In May 22-28 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
Like many states Kentucky has started a program to promote local tourism, given the expected impact of high gas prices.
After the shock of last year's reduction in the lake's level and resulting plunge in lake tourism, the local tourism board has elected to step up its television advertising in the areas that have in the past been fertile areas for lake tourism.
The regional tourism program is also promoting within the state and without.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has no extra money for advertising, reported Allison Jarrett, an information officer for their regional office.
She said the Corps has invested in continuing improvements to the campgrounds, ramp facilities and the roads into the access areas at Lake Cumberland through the winter.
"We are doing our best to make sure the facilities are the best they can be before the visitors arrive," she said.
There had been word from the Corps last fall that the lake's summer pool level could go up, but Jarrett said recently that there is still no word on when that decision will be made.
She explained that crews still have to finish the first line of grout before that decision can be made and recently they added to the number of bore-holes needed to accomplish that work.
According to the Corps figures she had Jarrett said visitation was down over 10 percent last year at Lake Cumberland. That lead to a $5.7 million hit to the local tourism businesses, according to those Corps figures.
Alan Tucker at Grider Hill Dock said they are seeing more visitors than last year.
"But it is lower than before they lowered the lake," he added.
He said their dock was the first on the lake to offer a $300 fuel allowance for any houseboat rental.
"I think its going to be a good year," Tucker said. "Those people who came here last year all went back and told their friends that the lake was in good shape."
But as of earlier this week they still had rooms and houseboats that were not booked.
James Flatt at Indian Hills Alligator II said their cabins are full but they haven't rented any houseboats this weekend.
"There's nothing much before June 23rd," Flatt said. "I talked with the staff up at our KOA campground and their bookings are better than last year but not like a normal memorial day weekend."
He said he has been getting some encouraging news though.
"I heard from three or four boaters this week who said they will be down and they'll be taking boats out to coves," Flatt said. "That was not what I expected given the price of gas."
There has been talk on the docks and lake forum among boaters that visits would be fewer this summer and boats would be spending more time at the dock.
"These gas prices are going to hurt everyone," Flatt added, "not just the docks."
John Meincken with Jamestown Marina said that bookings at hotel are down this year and the houseboat rentals are about same as last year, "maybe a little lower."
He said they are offering fuel coupons and discount rates to spur more people to come down to the lake.
Meincken said they are advertising both in and out of state.
"We may do a little better with people in-state," he added. "Given the price of gas and everything."
"Its been little slower this year," he conceded but he said prospects are improving later in the summer. Meincken and Flatt both said their late June bookings are much better.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
404 Monument Square
Jamestown KY 42629