Co. tourism officials teaming
with neighbors to prepare for boom
(November 2001) Warsaw, Ky The new Gallatin County
Tourism Commission members say they hope that someday
when race fans exit off I-71 into Sparta, Ky., they will
not just limit their stay to the two-year-old Kentucky
Speedway. They hope that before the green flag and after
the checkered flag, these patrons will be able to better
enjoy the recreational offerings that surround the 1.5-mile
The commission formed this past year and
had two successful readings by the Gallatin County Fiscal
Court. Now discussions are beginning to evolve about tourism
packages that the budding commission wishes to put out
to Kentucky Speedway tourists looking for other local
activities to complement their race weekend stay.
Usually the people who come to the races stay all
week, said Ed Foley of the commission. We
want to develop an itinerary to go out at the speedway
so that when people come to this area, they know what
there is to do when theyre not watching the race.
Foleys inclusion of the word we not
only means Gallatin Countys commission but the tourism
bureaus of Carroll and Switzerland counties. Currently,
all three share a brochure rack in the Kentucky Speedway
Fan Center off Exit 57 of I-71.
Foley has had preliminary conversation with Kentucky Speedway
Communications Director Tim Bray regarding possible collaborative
promotion efforts and plans to speak later with another
major tourism draw, the Belterra Casino Resort in nearby
Florence, Ind. Belterra sits right across the river from
the Gallatin County seat of Warsaw.
These counties have a lot, but its not going
to take a week to see whats in one county,
said Carroll County Tourism Director Robin Caldwell. So
by packaging the information together, its a win-win
Area tourism officials have not met yet to draw up a marketing
plan and do not anticipate doing detailed brainstorming
until after the holidays, due to the busy tourism rush.
County officials from all three areas say they hope to
include all area counties in this comprehensive marketing,
including Jefferson, Owen, Henry and Trimble.
By getting together, we can do more with our tourism
dollars, said Caldwell. Those of us who are
a little more established can help those who are just
starting out. I think right now the camaraderie between
the Ohio and Kentucky river valley communities is more
solid than ever before.
Weve always said wed like to partner
with our neighbors across the river, said Switzerland
County Tourism Director Ann Mulligan. Wed
like to develop something for a wide variety of people.
Bray responded favorably to collaborative efforts with
Gallatin and surrounding counties. He plans to further
discuss possibilities of information distribution with
their area tourism officials.
Weve kicked around some ideas, said
Bray. I think its a great idea to try and
reach out some more. As our county and region grows, there
will be more things to do. We need to develop a foundation
to tell people about what they can do.
Whether that foundation is a brochure or a similar type
of itinerary, discussions are limited partly to the fact
that the infrastructure around the area is still in its
developing stages. Road work is still in progress on a
new I-71 interchange just west of the speedway. It is
scheduled to be completed by the May 10 race weekend next
spring. Major tourism potential lies in the future four-lane
connector road between I-71 and Hwy. 42. Foley envisioned
that this new connector could possibly accommodate new
Another work in progress is a corporate and private airport
to go somewhere in Carroll, Gallatin or Owen counties.
This regional airport has been pursued by the three county
Judge-Executives, ever since the Kentucky Speedway was
built. Gallatin County Judge-Executive George Zubaty said
that airport may not necessarily have to be right next
to the track. A feasibility study would recommend the
best location in any one of the three counties, and Zubaty
said they are still seeking funding options and will meet
with the Federal Aviation Administration regarding this
matter in the near future.
Officials see the presence of the airport as not just
a benefit to Kentucky Speedway patrons but other private
planes and businessmen visiting nearby industries. Zubaty
stressed that whatever county it would go in, he felt
it would best serve all markets near an interstate exit.
On parcel of 297 acres next to the speedway has been discussed
as a possible option.
We envision this exit to be a great thoroughfare,
said Foley. Right now there are only 51 hotel rooms
in Gallatin County, but we are on the edge of a great