Workers worry their jobs could close next

Tourists were told to leave the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through the Townsend area. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- With Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed, people who work in Gatlinburg worry they may not have as many hours if business slows.

Traffic cones and road closed signs are posted to keep people out of the national park. Employees at businesses in Gatlinburg say they're worried the park closure will mean fewer people in town this fall.

"October is the money making season for us. The leaves changing really brings in the tourists," said Andrew Shirk, a server in Gatlinburg. "The amount of money that we make in October is really what keeps us a live November through March."

The Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson Marci Claude says they've been working to help local businesses understand the closure. She says they want to get the message out that Gatlinburg is still open for business.

"We're trying to get them to know what's open, what's not, so that we can better communication with our visitors when they come into town. We're also concerned about the displaced campers that are coming out of the national park," said Claude.

Claude says they're pointing people to the city's parks for picnics, and nearby state parks that offer camping and hiking opportunities for guests.

A survey showed that national parks cost local communities more than $70 million per day when closed.

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