Nichols discusses regional tourism figures

Published 11:05 am Friday, February 14, 2020

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Cumberland Gap Region Tourism Association Director Carl Nichols addressed the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday with a variety of information on their service area, which includes 10 counties and a 400-mile span of popular tourist locations.

“We define the Cumberland Gap Region as the 10 counties that were within a 25-mile radius of the Cumberland Gap, and we work very closely with the chambers of commerce in all 10 counties, the boards of tourism and different commissions,” Nichols said.

He added the 10 counties served through the association include Bell, Harlan, Knox and Whitley counties in Kentucky, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock and Union counties in Tennessee and Lee County in Virginia.

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Nichols’ assistant distributed a packet of information regarding the association, including the perks of membership.

“The CGRTA promotes tourism and small businesses within the 10 counties for the Cumberland Gap Region. We would be honored to include your business among our list of regional supporters,” Nichols said, reviewing information from the packet with those in attendance. “The CGRTA is a 501c6 non-profits organization governed by a board of directors dedicated to promoting the Cumberland Gap Region as a vacation destination. We receive no states or federal funding. We depend solely upon the memberships of the businesses we promote.”

Nichols said the fee members/sponsors pay allows the CGRTA to maintain a 24/7 regional ad on, maintain the CGRTA website, publish a weekly calendar-of-events newsletter, publish four full-page ads annually in Southern Travel and Leisure Magazine (both print and electronic versions), recognize and encourage outstanding regional tourism accomplishments through annual “Region Strong” awards, maintain membership in the Southeast Tourism Society, promote events and activities of all chambers of commerce and departments of tourism within the Cumberland Gap Region, promote small businesses through the promotion and downtown revitalization programs, promote concerts, theatre productions, state park activities and community events and advertise in various tourism promotions.

A number of sponsors were also listed: the Realty Group of New Tazewell (Diamond Sponsor), the Appalachian Regional Health Care (Gold Sponsor), the New Tazewell City Council (Silver Sponsor), the Harrogate City Council and the Union County Chamber of Commerce (both Bronze Sponsors).

As part of his presentation, Nichols discussed the economic impact of travel across the Cumberland Gap Region, focusing directly on the 10 counties within the CGRTA service area. He added the figures come from 2017 and 2018 reports because the 2019 figures won’t be released until the fall.

In 2017 for Kentucky, the total amount of spending fell at $10,922.56 million, with Bell County at $38.71, Harlan County at $33.18, Knox County at $19.87 and Whitley County at $89.16 in total spending. In 2018, Kentucky’s total spending reached $11,248.94 million, with Bell County at $38.23, Harlan County at $32.95, Knox County at $20.12 and Whitley County at $91.60.

Nichols also reviewed a map of the Cumberland Gap Region and a “400-mile tour through the region,” naming a few places such as the Mountain Hollow Farm, Royal Blue, the Colonel Sanders Cafe and Museum, Sand Cave and Martins Fork before taking questions.