Mammoth Cave tourism creates millions in economic benefits

CAVE CITY, Ky.- Tourism season is in full swing at Mammoth Cave National Park, and it’s having a positive impact on surrounding businesses.

According to a new National Park Service report, last year visitors to Mammoth Cave spent millions of dollars at shops, restaurants, bars and other businesses near the park.

Visitors from all over the world make their way to Mammoth Cave to see the world’s longest cave system and the Green River.  Those visitors aren’t just stopping at the park. In 2018, they spent $45.1 million in communities near the park.

“Cave City is here, and we have the businesses, restaurants and motels because of the travel to Mammoth Cave. Without that we would just have the attractions. The way that it is now, the attractions actually complement Mammoth Cave National Park,” said Gregory Davis, executive director at Cave City Tourist and Convention Commission.

Some 533,000 people visited Mammoth Cave in 2018. Lodging accounted for most of their spending, followed by food and convenience stores.

“We’re always excited every year Memorial Day Weekend, because that is the kick-off of the main seasonal travels. Whether travel is up or down Memorial Day weekend is a good indicator as to what tourism’s going to be for the year,” said Davis.

In downtown Cave City, business owners say that when tourism is booming so is business.

“I’ve been here 27 years, and we rely on Mammoth Cave National Park. We couldn’t make it with out them. That’s the reason why I bought the building,” said Magaline Meredith, owner at Magaline’s Antique Mall.

A new dive bar is opening in downtown Cave City in a just a few weeks. Owners says they were drawn to the location because of tourist spending.

“I do think it’s a great time to be a business owner or start a business in the area. The numbers should show that it is a good time to start a business if the tourism population is growing,” said Leticia Kline, owner at Dive Bar.

The Chamber of Commerce is waiting to see how the partial Government Shutdown at the beginning of the year impacts visitor numbers in spending this year.