Berea City Hall Photo

Andy McDonald

Special to the Citizen

 

  Visitors to the Pinnacles and tourism spending are up, according to a study presented Tuesday night before the Berea City Council. 

  Dr. Louisa Summers, professor of Health and Human Performance at Berea College presented the findings of her annual report, along with research associates Osman Bin Aamir and Gage Cousineau. 

  According to the study, an estimated 103,000 hikers visited the Pinnacles in 2020, generating an economic gain for the city of over $1 million. The data was acquired using a combination of infrared sensors, observation, on-site interviews, and interviews used with a QR code, Summers said.

  Summers noted there is good news and bad news when it comes to the economic impact of hikers. Slightly over 50 percent still report spending no money in town after visiting the popular hiking venue. 

  “This is a missed opportunity. The good news is in 2021, we saw the largest increase in people spending $20 or more. In addition, there’s more people reporting spending $20 than in previous years,” Summers said. In fact, the study estimated a 400 percent increase in spending over last year. 

  While approximately 41 percent of the people are coming from Richmond and Lexington, Summers reported there is an increase of visitors from surrounding counties, such as

hikers who are coming from Jackson, Garrard and Lincoln counties. 

  Out of state hikers spent a projected $21 per person, or a total of $367,556 according to estimates. Visitors from Richmond or Lexington, meanwhile, spent a projected $8.77 per person or $461,608 total.

As good as those numbers are, Summers said they can be better, and she and her research associates offered strategies for increasing expenditures, such as a special promotions offered by merchants and retailers, detailed maps, as well as a more aggressive advertising campaign, including social media. 

  On a related note, Summers said she would be including Berea’s coming mountain bike trail in future research projects. That facility is expected to be ready by the end of the summer.  

  In other news, Berea Business Development and Tourism Director Donna Angel reported the Berea Craft Festival was a huge success. Visitors came to the fair from 32 out of the 50 states, and attendance records for the weekend were broken, Angel said.  

  Sales were off the charts, according to Angel. “Each vendor either sold out or ran very low on product,” Angel noted. “There was not one vendor who was not ecstatic about their sales.” Kentucky had the highest number of visitors to the festival, followed by Ohio, Maine, Florida, and there were visitors from Texas and California, Angel reported.

  In other action, Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley opened a bid from the Allen Company for approximately $183,000 for resurfacing of city streets, including Jefferson Street. The bid was passed onto the Audit and Finance Committee for further review.

  Mayor Fraley also presented a proclamation for the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame, a brief recognition ceremony which included Donna Lovell, John Lovell, and Coach Glen Also approved unanimously was a change order for the Russel Acton Folk Center for $8,085 for more materials. Berea City Administrator David Gregory explained the project was still on track for completion and still well under cost of other submitted bids.

  Mayor Fraley also presented a proclamation for the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame, a brief recognition ceremony which included Donna Lovell, John Lovell, and Coach Glen Also approved unanimously was a change order for the Russel Acton Folk Center for $8,085 for more materials. Berea City Administrator David Gregory explained the project was still on track for completion and still well under cost of other submitted bids. 

  The council heard the first reading of a zone change ordinance for 171 Herndon Lane – from R1 from planned unit development to agricultural. The plot under review was part of the Stony Creek Subdivision on property fronting Herndon Lane. The property will be used for a private green house and maybe one house, according to officials.  

  During the meeting, Angel introduced three tourism employees to the council. Nancy Conley has been serving as tourism operations manager, Liz Todd was introduced as program manager, and Sara Stillwell was introduced as media manager.  

 

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