Karen Phillips of the Harlan Tourism and Convention Commission said several points of tourist interest in the mountains are earning national acclaim.
"There's several corridors, and we're the smallest corridor, with three counties. Some of them have up to 11 or 12," she said. "One thing that's really been successful is the media tours. They've contracted through the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association with Geiger and Associates out of Florida and they've brought travel writers in, which has produced a lot of national coverage in travel magazines about the area."
Bobbie Gothard, committee secretary and curator of the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, said several projects are currently in the works.
"One of the things we're working on is an audio tour," she began. "We have a map that's being made and recorded messages that people can put in their car and take from one end of the three-county area to the other. There will be stops at the tourism offices and different attractions and the museum will have the free tapes."
The tapes, according to Gothard, will tell motorists how to proceed from one stop to the next and will serve as a pilot and guide throughout the area's major tourism points. The three-county area consists of Harlan, Bell and Knox counties.
"We're having a video put together," she said. "The video will consist of all of the same attractions, and we can take it to travel shows and show it to the tour operators ... to encourage them to bring tours into these three counties."
Gothard was optimistic about the results of these new innovations.
"We're hoping that this will be something that will help us to pull people," she said. "There's so many millions of cars that go through the tunnel (at Cumberland Gap) every month, and we're trying to do things to pull these people off into our counties to visit the attractions that we have."
Also on the list is an placemat with a map of the area on it. These will be given to local restaurants, in an effort to allow visitors to easily access routes to tourism points. Gothard said advertisement is key in tourism promotion.
"One of the biggest things we're trying to do is get a sign down on 25E for Harlan County," she explained. "We have nothing down there to indicate that people should turn off of 25E and come up U.S. 119. We're working on getting funds to get a billboard down there."