Hatfield-McCoy Starts Strongly In 2009 After Record-Setting 2008 - Dirt Rider Magazine

LYBURN, WV_ Permit revenue for the Hatfield-McCoy Trails is up 25 percent so far in 2009, following a record year in which revenue climbed 21 percent, despite a reduction in price, Executive Director Jeffrey Lusk said Friday.The trend continues a four-year climb that has seen annual permit revenue increase 39.1 percent, leading to a record net income in 2008 of $926,095. The turnaround is especially dramatic considering net income actually dropped to $40,739 in 2006.While cautioning that it's still early, and the overall numbers are small, Lusk said permit revenue had risen from $62,301 in the first 70 days of 2008 to $77,580 in 2009, a 25 percent increase."We experienced a record year in 2008, with permit revenue of more than $1 million, a 21 percent increase from 2007," Lusk said. Not only was it an increase from 2007, but it was more than $100,000 above what had been expected.The 2008 increase in revenue occurred despite a nearly 37 percent drop in the permit price for out-of-state residents - from $79 to $50. (Prices remain the same in 2009: $26.50 for West Virginia residents, $50 for out-of-state residents.)Lusk attributes the improved performance to two factors: increased marketing and the vacation value offered by the Trails in difficult economic times."I think we're a bargain," he said. "For $50, $26.50 for West Virginians, we offer unlimited access for an entire year to more than 500 miles of trails. You can't beat that."This is probably one of the best vacation bargains in the eastern United States," he said.Hatfield-McCoy also has become more aggressive in marketing and telling its story around the country to off-road enthusiasts, he said."We didn't do anything differently in 2007 except increase marketing," he said, "and we still had a record year despite the lower permit price."The Hatfield-McCoy Trails was created by the West Virginia Legislature to generate economic development through tourism in nine southern West Virginia counties. The system comprises more than 500 miles of off-road trails in six systems scattered over southern West Virginia, each of which is open 365 days a year to ATVs, dirt bikes, select utility vehicles (UTVs), mountain bikes, horses, and hikers. Many of the trail systems also offer community connecting trails that allow visitors to access "ATV-friendly towns."