Lake Cumberland Businesses Urge Tourists To Return

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) - Business owners around Lake Cumberland say
myths and misconceptions about water levels and conditions at the lake have held back visitors to the area this year.

The lake is not drained down to its riverbed, nor is it a dried-up hole, they say.

"It's the impression that we are nothing but a mudhole with no ramps and no docks open, which really isn't the truth," said James Flatt, of the Indian Hills Resort-Alligator 2 Marina. Flatt said he's had a 50 percent drop in customers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lowered the lake to make improvements to the dam and said the surface of the lake is at and will remain at 680 feet above sea level in 2008. But that is far below the usual summer level of 723 feet, meaning the surface of the lake covers about 38,000 acres instead of the usual 50,000 acres.

Work on the dam will take another 5 years to 7 years.

Tourism at the at Lake Cumberland's dozen or so marinas and resorts generate about $150 million annually. But this year the lake-area economy has lost about 25 percent of its business, mostly in houseboat rentals, with some resorts claiming a loss of up to 50 percent.

In hopes of bouncing back, marina and resort managers have partnered with the state to launch an aggressive advertising campaign to lure tourists back to the lake. Gov. Ernie Fletcher and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers presented the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association with a check last week for $400,000 toward the campaign.

The money will be used to create a database of customers, who will be encouraged to return to Lake Cumberland through a mailing campaign.

About 205,000 visited the lake over Labor Day weekend, compared to 219,000 last year.

"People that come for the first time, they won't think anything of it because there is so much water," said Greg Rankin of Wade County, who was visiting the lake with his wife, Tracy. "There's no reason not to come."

--- Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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