Hazard, Ky. (WYMT)- Eastern Kentucky could be a tourist hot spot the likes of Galtinburg, Tenn. and Branson, Mo., according to a study commissioned by the Kentucky Chamber Foundation.
"With a few strategically developed assets and long-term commitments from both the private and public sectors, there is potential for Eastern Kentucky to develop into a tourism destination area such as a modern, well-planned Gatlinburg."
The various counties and communities of the region must work together for such a plan to work out, said Hazard and Perry County Tourism Director John Epperson.'
"It has to be a regional-wide approach," he said. "Not just Perry County, but all the counties in Southeastern Kentucky working hard to make that happen."
He noted plans including a proposed river trail work to meet the goal of increased tourism.
"I think we need to take advantage of the natural beauty of this area--the rivers, the mountains. Not many cities have a river that runs right through the middle of it," he said.
One tourist found the friendly atmosphere in Hazard inviting in downtown Monday.
"Relaxed place, here, nice. Very quiet, not too much traffic. People are nice," said Peair Chen, who lives in Los Angeles.
One Hazard nursing student said there should be a focus on the young.
"If we added a little more stuff to it, like places to eat, and you know, places to shop, places for kids to hang out, because there's not really a lot to do in Hazard right now," said Cara VanVranken.