Kentucky Trail Town program: Facilitating communities capitalizing on adventure tourism for community and economic development
Since 2012, the state-wide Kentucky Trail Town program has been guiding Kentucky communities located in geographically advantageous areas to capitalize on adventure tourism through a systematic trail-based community and economic development approach. The Kentucky Department of Tourism, Office of Adventure Tourism facilitates proactive communities through a sequence of topical assessments and capacity building followed by a trail-oriented trial event as part of the community-based initiative. The Kentucky Trail Town program integrates trail planning and development efforts with a downtown revitalization approach for small or rural towns to strengthen the synergy between them. Ultimately, Kentucky Trail Towns create an action plan with a set of target goals for accomplishing longer-term economic development. Once certified, Kentucky Trail Towns are responsible for continuing their efforts as a quality Trail Town with emphasis on sustainable tourism practices serving the needs of adventure tourists, trail users and residents. As of 2017, 17 certified Kentucky Trail Towns are accommodating and serving trail users on a range of established and developing trail systems and continuing their efforts toward sustainable trail-based tourism destinations. Extension educators have partnered with and served essential roles during the local efforts in several Kentucky Trail Towns.