April 5, 1999 | By: Haven Miller

Kentucky offers travelers an unusually rich array of scenic, cultural, and recreational experiences. That spells good news for travelers - and economic opportunity for the state's 120 counties.

"Kentucky has a unique culture, friendly people, beautiful lakes, streams, and forests, and a great geographic location for travelers," said Allan Worms, tourism specialist for the UK Cooperative Extension Service. "That means the potential for tourism development in the state is excellent."

According to Worms, tourism benefits everyone. It provides visitors with recreation and entertainment, and it gives local economies a boost by bringing in outside dollars.

"Money spent by tourists is new money to the local economy," said Worms. "When local business owners use that new money to pay wages or other costs, or use it to buy their own goods and services, the benefit of that outside money is expanded several times through several levels."

Tourism also creates jobs. Worms said that while it's true many of these jobs are entry-level, tourism also brings a number of jobs that are middle and high-paying as well.

"Tourism is labor intensive, which means it employs a high number of people," said Worms. "Tourist expenditures mean jobs in restaurants, service stations, grocery stores, hotels and motels, and jobs at the local attractions the tourists came to see."

Worms said one of the missions of the UK Cooperative Extension Service is helping local communities across Kentucky learn how to recognize and develop their tourism resources.

"Through our county agents we provide information and support on how to develop new opportunities and improve the quality of existing opportunities," Worms said.

Typically, Worms said, a request will come in from a county agent. That request may have originated with a county judge, or mayor, or chamber of commerce leader who is interested in tourism development and has asked the Extension agent for assistance.

"Extension becomes the educational support system. Through our agents we can provide written materials, internships, workshops, or whatever is needed," said Worms. "I've been in Cooperative Extension for 30 years, and I've seen it work time and time again."

According to Worms, Extension start-up workshops have helped launch more than 300 bed & breakfast businesses in the last 10 years. Other tourist industry businesses - including food service businesses, marinas, dock operations, recreation sites, and gift shops - have profited from Extension's advice and statewide educational programs.

"And tourism offers more than just an economic benefit to an area," said Worms. "A community that is beautiful and attractive is nicer to live in, and visitors to the area are eager to return. So there's a dynamic relationship between good tourism development, good cultural opportunities, and a high quality of life for the local people."

According to Worms, Kentucky has only just begun to tap its tourism potential.

"A lot of other states would like to be in our situation," said Worms. "We have the ability to welcome travelers off the major highways, show them our wonderful state, and make them want to return again and again."

Contact: 

Writer: Haven Miller
(606) 257-3784

Source: Allan Worms
(606) 257 - 4646