Prestonsburg Tourism members discuss growth of industry

By Andrea Saddler -

PRESTONSBURG – Prestonsburg Tourism board members met for their regular monthly meeting at the Mountain Arts Center on Tuesday.

Steve Russo, Director of the East Kentucky Science Center, advised the board the center will be hosting a NASA exhibit. He said the exhibit should arrive at the center toward the end of January 2017 and will run through August or September 2017. The planetarium is also hosting Fright Light, a laser show for the Halloween holiday. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students and seniors, with children under four being admitted free.

Dan Lyons was next to address the board. Lyons purchased the Country Music Highway Travel Guide in December 2014. Lyons pitched board members the opportunity to be included in the 2017 edition of the travel guide and explained the benefits it offered.

“Eastern Kentucky is promoting tourism full speed ahead and more visitors than ever before are coming into the area,” Lyons commented. “The Country Music Highway is the US Route 23 that stretches from Ashland to Pikeville and crosses seven counties. Travelers are interested in what their favorite country music star’s hometown has to offer. Those travelers can pick up a copy of the Country Music Highway Travel Guide to find out. I have worked with the past Tourism Director and would love to have Prestonsburg onboard again this year. I want to be a part of your team, promoting all the events and things going on in Prestonsburg and Floyd County.”

The cost for Prestonsburg Tourism to be included in the travel guide is $1,600 to $1,800, depending on the package. The cost also includes being listed on the travel guide’s website, which currently is getting approximately 3,000 hits per month. Lyons said over 26,000 guides will be distributed in April 2017.

No decision was made at the meeting about advertising in the 2017 Country Music Highway Travel Guide.

Prestonsburg Tourism Executive Director Mitchell Pearson advised those in attendance that the tourism board is currently working on an official City of Prestonsburg visitor’s guide. He discussed with board members the opportunity and benefits of accommodating motor coaches and how that has proven to be successful and lucrative for not only Prestonsburg Tourism, but also everyone involved in the travel industry in Floyd County, as well as the entire local economy.

“When we have a tour group come, the sizes range from 35 to 48 individuals,” Pearson confided. “The largest group we have hosted was 53 individuals. This year, groups from Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New Jersey have visited Prestonsburg and its surrounding attractions. We have two more groups left on the schedule for the year. We take them to see where the Battle of Middle Creek was fought, Jenny Wiley State Park and Loretta Lynn’s homeplace in Van Lear, as well as several other unique things offered in the area.”

“Tour groups are staying in our hotels, typically several nights, eating in our restaurants, and shopping in our stores,” said Prestonsburg Tourism Board Member Jim Ousley. “Every time a motor coach rolls into town with a tour group it will generate between $5,000 to $15,000 for our local economy. Tour groups are by far the most economical way to bring money into Floyd County through tourism.”

Members agreed they wanted to do better complimentary gifts for individuals in the tour groups.

“We are ambassadors for the state when groups from other states come in and stay with us,” Pearson added. “The most common comment I hear from at least one person in every tour groups is, ‘you all are just so nice.’ I tell them it is just who we are.”

In an effort to sell Prestonsburg and Eastern Kentucky to more travel companies and increase the number of motor coach tour groups that visit the area, Julian Slone, from Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, made the motion to approve funding for Prestonsburg Tourism officials to attend five travel shows. Cliff Latta seconded the motion.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the next Prestonsburg Tourism meeting will be November 15. Rodney Gardner made the motion to move the meeting and Cliff Latta seconded the motion.

By Andrea Saddler

Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.

Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.

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