Business owners: Trail Towns program could mean economic boost

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email
More than 30 towns across the bluegrass are looking to boost tourism through Kentucky

Lance Armstrong, right, of the United States, pedals with fellow-countryman George Hincapie, left, during the Milan-San Remo cycling classic, in San Remo, Italy.

LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - More than 30 towns across the bluegrass are looking to boost tourism through Kentucky's trails and rivers.
Some said this could mean big things for local businesses in those towns.

London tourism officials have applied to become a trail town, one of those which state officials want to turn into passageways to trails and rivers, using adventure tourism to stimulate the economy.

Co-Director of London, Laurel County Tourism, Rodney Hendrickson said that if they do receive the trail town designation, cycling will play a major role. Hendrickson said they are also going to focus on things like kayaking, backpacking and other water sports as well.

Fitness and outdoor enthusiasts in the area said there was a lot to work with in London.

“I think the trail town designation would be a big economic boost for London, ot only with cycling, but the three rivers and two lakes that we have here the Sheltowee Trace Trail,” said Cumberland Valley Cycling Club Vice President Mackey Williams.

Governor Steve Beshear said the state will help promote businesses like Mike's Hike and Bike, which local owners said they like.

Owner Mike Hale said he thought the trail town designation could mean nothing but good things.

“To me it's pretty much a no brainer,” said Hale.
“If people from London will pack up bicycles, they come here to buy a $300 rack to put on the back of their car and buy two bicycles and load them in their car and drive all the way to Lexington to pedal for 7 miles on a trail.”

Hale said people would take advantage of the trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest if they were made available. He also said the entire Navy in Ohio came down to Laurel Lake and Lake Cumberland and passed through London, because there were no trails to stop them.

“Instead of just going to the lake, they would stop in London, they would eat at the restaurants, they will shop at the local shops,” said Hale.

Eco-tourism lovers said it has helped other towns in the past.

“Just take a look at Damascus, Virginia and what it has done for their economy,” said Williams.
“It is adventure tourism-based and it has had a tremendous impact and that is what we are hoping to have here.”

Beshear said state agencies would help promote towns certified under this program through maps, web sites, visitor guides and other promotional material.

Hendrickson said a public meeting will be held to discuss the application status for the “Trail Town” designation on Sep. 7 at the tourism office.

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