The Capital Attractions Network met July 15 to review how the economy was affecting local public and private attractions. Meeting at the Salato Wildlife Education Center, various updates were presented, including the Riverfront Development Committee, the KSU Science Lab, the water taxi project, a proposed amphitheater and the Trolley, which offers free public transportation connecting many of the most popular attractions in town.
“It was good to see how well our community is doing at a time when we are not expected to do so,” stated Joy Jeffries Tourism Director; “yet our numbers are holding up quite well. During 2009 we had nearly one-half a million visitors which equates to an economic impact of between 120 and 130 million dollars. Our payroll for 2050 employees in the tourism industry in our community accounts for more than 39 million dollars.” Others attending agreed: Salato has unveiled a new exhibit devoted to fishing, which the group toured, CANOE KENTUCKY was having the second record year in a row, and has opened a Kentucky River Outpost at Riverview Park; and other attractions were reported to be similarly performing above expectations. “The take away lesson is that it is a great time to invest in upgrades to your attraction,” said Ed Councill.
Betty Burris, Frankfort’s Transportation Supervisor, likewise reported major increases in ridership for the recently initialed Trolley. “A public transit vehicle in operation for only four months, it is showing rapidly growing numbers using it to visit attractions throughout the community.” Ms. Burris shared data for the first quarter; in May there were 2,494 riders and on July 1st she said, “We broke a record for one day with 200 riders.”
Burris reported that the original vehicle was purchased with a designated source of funding which left stimulus funds available for enhancing public transit to complete plans for a backup, smaller trolley. Although users of the Trolley have been most complimentary, even taking the time to write of their experience, a few local citizens cite seeing only small numbers of people in the vehicle at times. Jeffries said, “now we can give the public the actual numbers and it’s impressive.”
After hearing these reports, the CAN members decided to take action to support the Trolley program, to express appreciation to those responsible for its success, and to recommend seeking the remaining available funds for the Trolley enhanced capacity and reliability as an important investment in the community’s tourism/economic development infrastructure.