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Tourist spending in Pike County, Kentucky, has ascended to an all-time high of $105.05 million for 2019, according to a news release from the Pike County Tourism CVB. The total is almost $6 million greater than the previous record of $99.10 million set in 2018. According to the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism, direct spending in Pike County was $68.78 million in 2019, up from $64.21 million in 2018.

“Obviously, there will be challenges ahead, given the pandemic’s impact on tourism across the nation,” said Pike County Tourism Chairlady Judi Conway Patton. “But there are things in planning that we have faith will further help in our economic recovery. It may take time, but we and our partners in tourism can make this happen. Together, we will continue to work diligently to increase tourism visitation into Pike County and to shine the light of hospitality onto one of the most beautiful places on earth, our home, Coal Run Village, Elkhorn City and Pikeville-Pike County.”

Tony K. Tackett, Pike County Tourism CVB executive director, said feedback from our visitor surveys often mention the area’s natural beauty and the talent of musicians.

“If you see one of our motorcoach groups visiting our area, please be so kind as to welcome them,” Tackett said. “They truly recognize and treasure the hospitality and friendly smiles they get in Pike County; they tell us it is like no other hospitality they have ever experienced, and that, my friend, is what we aim to achieve.”

Jay Shepherd, Pike County Tourism CVB marketing director, said, “In 2007 Pike County Tourism had one motor coach and one convention, this year we were on target to host forty-one motor coaches, and nine conventions. We know if it is possible once, we can come out of this pandemic and achieve the same goals, together. Our tourism partners across the country are in the same situation that we find ourselves in. We are all awaiting the tourism gate to open so that we can showcase our great Eastern Kentucky to those awaiting to visit.”

Shepherd said that one motor coach for three nights and four days can drop $25,000 into the local economy with spending on lodging, food, shopping, souvenirs, attractions and entertainment.

“We visit mom-and-pop gift shops, restaurants and local businesses so that the outside dollar circulates into our community. That is the goal of tourism, not to take dollars out of our community, but to bring outside dollars in,” he said.

Shepherd said that out of Kentucky’s 120 counties, Pike County is in the top 20 in tourist spending growth, with Shelby County, the number one county for growth in 2019, experiencing 10% growth, only 3% greater than Pike County.

Pike County Tourism Commissioner Bob Scott said he has seen an increase on his McCoy Well property since mid-July.

“I have noticed more motorcycle groups, ATV groups and more families in SUVS in the past month,” Scott said. “Tourism is picking back up in our region, and we will be ready for those visitors.”