Kayaking Brings Big Bucks To Wetumpka


By Catalina Trivino

With the hot summer months upon us, city leaders in Wetumpka say kayaking on the Coosa River is one of its leading tourism attractions. So just how many people are going to the Coosa? And with all the revenue coming in, what plans do city leaders have to expand the business?

Kayak business owners tell us they see more than 30,000 people a year riding the Coosa River. And for every time they're here, that means they could be spending money. For some businesses, that means making more than a quarter million dollars a year.

Kayaking -- it's a big business in Wetumpka.
"It's like maybe a three hour trip all for about $30," Said first-time kayaker, Patrick Smith.

While it's only $30 for Patrick Smith to rent at Coosa River Adventures, it all adds up...

"Say this week, we're probably going to have over 200 customers, people renting boats," Said Eric Olds with Coosa Oudoor Center.

Another 900 people at Coosa River Adventures -- just on a weekend.

"They spent their money and then they take their memories with them, so those memories can be in the form of a t-shirt, a camera, buying a boat," Said Chris Carter with Coosa River Adventures.

Business so good, owner Chris Carter says he'll make $350,000 by the end of this year, the best the business has ever done since it opened 19 years ago.

But with Wetumpka's three kayak centers the city gains revenue, too.

For every person who rents a kayak on the river, they're collecting 7 percent of what you spend. It's why city leaders have launched a study to survey all of the city's leisure services to make sure they're investing in the right businesses.

"Is it a good investment? Is it a bad investment? Are you giving enough? Should you be giving more? So that's the purpose of his study. To tell us where we're strong, where we're weak, other things that we should be involved in," Said Wetumpka mayor, Jerry Willis.
Here at Coosa River Adventures, the owner says he's seen a spike of people coming in that they've had to buy buses and more kayaks. The owner tells us he hopes in a few years, the Coosa can become a fishing hot spot as well.

City leaders say they hope to have a report with more definite figures of how much revenue is coming in from leisure services by this October.

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