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Tourists stop for region’s charms

Travelers who stopped at the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce and its Convention and Visitors Bureau jumped from 2,746 in 1997 to 3,175 in 1998.

Wednesday, September 01, 1999

Travelers who stopped at the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce and its Convention and Visitors Bureau jumped from 2,746 in 1997 to 3,175 in 1998.

Ms. Lawhorn expects 1999’s numbers to maintain that trend.

And she knows why.

"In such a high-tech society, people are just mesmerized by this unique Appalachian culture," Ms. Lawhorn said.

Many visitors who walk through the bureau’s doors in South Point grew up in metro areas, meaning concrete and towers, she explained.

When they drive U.S. 52 and Ohio 93 to Jackson, though, they see the river, farms, general stores, forests, hills, trees and blue skies – not typical cityscapes.

"We take it for granted because we live here," Ms. Lawhorn said. "But I think people really enjoy this tranquility because they may be somewhat envious."

The typical Lawrence County visitor stops at the bureau in South Point about lunch time or late afternoon, just before dinner.

Sometimes families, other times individuals, many are out-of-state and international travelers taking routes to the Columbus Zoo, King’s Island, Amish country and other destinations, Ms. Lawhorn said.

Other visitors include sightseers, camping enthusiasts and motorcyclists, she said.

All find help from the bureau’s brochures, travel maps and personal guidance, Ms. Lawhorn said.

And, although most tourists are passing through, there are numerous attractions nearby that can excite visitors and keep Lawrence County in the back of their mind, she said.

"It gives us a chance to say, ‘Have you tried this restaurant?’ or ‘Have you seen Lake Vesuvius?’"

It’s like retail, if you can get them in the door, you have a chance to sell, she added.

The most popular local attractions include the Wayne National Forest’s campgrounds, the Tunnel Hill overlook, downtown Ironton, riverfronts and special events like the Memorial Day Parade, Festival of the Hills, Ironmaster Days and the Sorghum Festival, Ms. Lawhorn said.

If tourists won’t stop nearby, then the idea is to keep them in the Tri-State with other attractions, and hope they will return next year or next trip, she said.

The bureau is looking to the future with a special events list already created and new brochures planned.

An Appalachian Regional Commission grant is helping create a historical/culture brochure of the area, which will list historic homes and Underground Railroad attractions, Ms. Lawhorn said.

If amenities such as parks and restaurants continue growing and civic clubs and other organizations keep the bureau informed of festivals and events that tourists can be directed to, then Lawrence County’s tourism will progress as it should, she said.