Russell tourism bouncing back amid pandemic

The Marina @ Rowena on Lake Cumberland. Photos courtesy of Russell County Tourism.

By Amber Hobaugh

Staff Writer

Travel restrictions and reopening phases have pushed the opening of the local tourist season back by three months. Tourism was one of the first industries to be hit by the current pandemic and amongst those hit hardest.

During the first week of May tourism revenue was down 91% in Kentucky compared to the same week last year. As these restrictions are being lifted and businesses are slowly starting to open back up, Russell County tourist attractions are doing everything possible to ensure a safe and fun time at your favorite Lake Cumberland hot spots.

As businesses continue to reopen, they bring with them numerous changes not only for safety reasons but also because during the tourism off-season a lot of improvements have been going on around Lake Cumberland.

Lake Cumberland State Resort Park has been hard at work installing full hookup campsites which offer water, electric, and sewer as well as renovating their already existing campgrounds. They are also in the process of renovating their outdoor swimming pool and fully restoring their indoor pool, as well as their interior pool rooms that were damaged in a fire late last year.

Jamestown Resort and Marina has been working on updating their already existing cabins and adding newer cabins to the property. 

Russell Springs KOA campground has also added new, luxury cabins and new campsites to their property.

Online booking with Airbnb and Vrbo have been boosted as well. These tools help tourists book their stay on Lake Cumberland with minimal contact to others.

One of the most exciting things new to Lake Cumberland though, is the Marina at Rowena. This is the first new marina development on Lake Cumberland in 60 years and offers a full service ship store, restaurant on the Lake, small boat and jet ski rentals. Annual and transient boat slip rentals are available and they are hoping to have their RV park open by the end of July.  Located four miles upstream from Wolf Creek Dam at the mouth of Rowena Cove.

Kentucky restaurants, including those on the lake, remain open at 50% capacity with spaced seating per Healthy at Work requirements. Employees at resorts and parks will be required to wear masks and undergo Covid screening tests before their shifts. Customers and patrons are encouraged to wear masks and keep a six foot distance from each other.   

Last, but certainly not least the Army Corps of Engineers has added a new splash pad to Kendall Park, located at Wolf Creek Dam. 

Lake Cumberland State Resort Park is the top resort park in the state and Lake Cumberland has the largest number of rental houseboats in the nation. With travelers looking to stick closer to home for their vacation needs, southern Kentucky with its easy access and improved offerings remains the place for tourists to get away while social distancing.

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