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PIKEVILLE, Ky. — In normal times, the Pike County Tourism Convention and Visitors Bureau and similar convention and CVBs throughout Kentucky market their communities. However, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, they have become community support organizations.

The Kentucky Travel Industry Association just completed a survey of its member CVBs to identify initiatives they have undertaken to support their local tourism industry partners such as hotels, restaurants and attractions. The survey revealed not only extensive support of tourism businesses, but that many of the CVBs are providing important support to the entire community.

“Our industry has been devastated by this crisis,” KTIA President and CEO Hank Phillips said. “Attractions are closed, as are restaurants, except for carryout and delivery, and hotels are virtually empty. We are so proud of the way CVBs have stepped into the breach to help those businesses and how they are going well beyond that to support their entire communities.”

CVBs are funded through local hotel taxes and some smaller CVBs also utilize restaurant tax funds. Just as hotel and restaurant revenue has plummeted, so too has the funding for CVBs, Phillips noted.

“CVBs are dealing with the same financial issues as their local tourism partners,” he said. “Many have had to furlough employees and as quasi-governmental organizations the relief they can receive from the CARES Act is very limited to non-existent. The internal challenges they are facing make the support and assistance they are providing all the more impressive.”

“Although our tourism offerings are limited due to precautions involving COVID-19, we are still engaged in supporting our local businesses where possible” said Pike County Tourism CVB Executive Director Tony K. Tackett. “It’s not an easy time, but we will make it through this.”

“We want to shift our marketing toward our locally owned businesses during this challenging time,” said Jay Shepherd, Pike County Tourism CVB marketing director. “We want to encourage our local businesses to reach out to us. Do you have a lunch special? Is your business offering delivery or curb side? We want to get the word out on social media, especially for our restaurants and mom-and-pop shops.”

Pike County Tourism CVB can be contacted through its website, www.TourPikeCounty.com, under the “Contact Us” heading.

“We want to support our wonderful artists and musicians as well,” said Shepherd. “Doing a Facebook live performance? Let us know. What about a painting, drawing or craft demonstration? We want to be a part of getting the word out about you,” said Shepherd. Artists and musicians have been receiving tips online for their performances, which enable them to continue practicing their art during quarantine.

Pike County Tourism CVB already has shared two performances from Pikeville favorite Johnny Pop Day, and has posted several photo blog articles on tourpikecounty.com featuring a variety of photos from an array of local photographers.

Although they have shifted from marketing to support, the CVBs have not totally abandoned marketing, Phillips added.

“They are laying the groundwork for the eventual rebound of the travel and tourism industry and the jobs and economic vitality it provides,” he said. “The Lake Cumberland Tourist Commission sums up this spirit well as they are encouraging future visitors to “Dream Now — Travel Later.”

The Kentucky Travel Industry Association represents and serves all segments of Kentucky’s over $11 billion tourism industry. Prior to the coronavirus crisis, the industry supported 94,500 Kentucky jobs and generated $787 million in local and state tax revenue.

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