Tourism in Cadiz and Trigg County took a hit in March when things started to shut down with the onset of the COVID-19 virus.
But Bill Stevens, executive director for the Cadiz-Trigg County Tourist Commission, noted that “it’s come back very strong” in recent weeks.
The only places still having difficulty are the state parks, said Stevens, who noted that they are feeling the pinch of the current state restrictions that are limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people.
“They market to a lot of conventions and groups, and when you’re restricted to 10 people, you can’t do that,” he observed, adding that “it affects us because the people who come like to explore (the surrounding area), go to Ferrell’s (Restaurant) and other places.”
Stevens noted that the Trigg community “took a little dip” on its transient room tax collections with the arrival of the coronavirus in March and the shutdown of the Lake Barkley State Resort Park.
The park is one of its top contributors for the transient room tax.
But Stevens said the camping business has picked back up and is strong at Prizer Point, and he said his agency is utilizing digital advertising to attract people to websites; posting information about local restaurants and hotels to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others is helping get more direct hits to gocadiz.com, the local tourism site.
Stevens said he is proud of the way that surrounding communities have tried to support local businesses to keep them viable; he noted that Cadiz and Trigg County are also working together with other communities in the state’s western waterlands region to help create a positive experience that will encourage visitors to come back.
Brooke Jung, executive director of the Hopkinsville-Christian County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said every city and town, both across the state and throughout the U.S., “is affected by this.”
She too noted that communities across the western lakes area are talking and sharing ideas to encourage people to support their towns.
“Everyone is experiencing this and going through this together,” Jung said. “Obviously, every community has been affected by this.
“Everybody is just trying to share best practices and see how we can encourage support of local businesses,” she added of the virus’ impact.
In Hopkinsville where Jung serves as the tourism director, she noted that the community has seen an increase in visitors for June and July.
Occupancy rates dropped down in April and May, she said, with local attractions and hotels definitely seeing an impact from the coronavirus.
However, she said visitors are starting to get out and about in the state, and Hopkinsville has seen people from different parts of the state as well as from neighboring Tennessee and driving from as far away as California.
Jung said officials are expecting to see numbers down from what they would be in a regular year, given events such as the Summer Salute and the Trail of Tears Intertribal PowWow that have been canceled.
But they’ve also tried to ramp up virtual offerings.
The bureau has partnered with the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County and the Hopkinsville-Christian County Human Rights Commission to host the Virtual African-American Cell Phone Tour, available on the museum’s Facebook page and at visithopkinsville.com.
Additionally, Jung’s agency features a spotlight on small businesses on its Facebook page; search for “visit Hopkinsville” on the web.
Stevens noted that Cadiz is seeing visitors come from nearby areas such as Louisville, Nashville, Evansville Indiana, Paducah, southern Illinois and southern Indiana in the wake of the coronavirus.
People don’t mind driving from those locations, he said, versus travelers who once came from Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
“I think people are considering us versus traveling longer distances,” noted Stevens, who said his city is getting “stay-cationers” who may come from Nashville or Evansville but “are still strong markets for us.”
He said Cadiz has a pretty high return rate, meaning people who visit once tend to come back, he observed of the appeal of the area’s amenities, its hospitality, restaurants and lodging choices, for example.
And even given the continuing impact of COVID-19, Stevens said he expects transient room tax collections in the county to exceed the $129,774 in tax collections for the last fiscal year in 2018-19.
For 2019-20, those collections already number $128,129 through May, not including collections for June, the last month of the fiscal year.
“I think we can compete with the best of them,” the director said.
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.