Working to Get Tourists Back

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Gatlinburg, Sevier County (WVLT) - It was a banner year for tourism in Sevier County last year so what are officials there doing to get people to return, now that the price of gas is on the rise again?

WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb takes a look at how Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg both are increasing their use of the internet to draw people to the area.

With tourist destinations like the Smoky Mountains, people love to vacation in East Tennessee.

"We're on our honeymoon. We just got married two days ago and it's beautiful up here and romantic so that's why we decided to come," says Sarah Johnson.

But people typically do not get married every year so officials in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are always finding new ways to get tourists back to the area. Pigeon Forge officials are using something unique for the travel industry this year placing "Floor Talks" on isles in grocery stores.

"Then you'll just walk over a place that looks like you are going to fall in the ground and that's advertising Mystery Mine at Dollywood," says Kay Powell, Assistant Director of Tourism for Pigeon Forge.

But officials have found a very valuable tool in drawing in tourists.

"The internet has become a very viable option. It's the number one option for a lot of people now," says Gatlinburg Public Relations Coordinator Jim Davis.

Just this year, Gatlinburg has revamped its website adding to it a downloadable version of its vacation guide that at one time could only be mailed.

"We've found that the first three and a half months this year we had 196 thousand downloads of our vacation guide off the internet," Davis says.

Pigeon Forge mails out its updated PF Guide three times a year to more than 350,000 people but also uses the internet to reach more people.

"We have an e-news letter is what we call it and we send out to about 180,000 a month," says Powell.

Powell says she anticipates people will be able to download their travel planner in about three to four weeks.

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