Possible Sevier County tourism troubles

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT)- We know high gas prices, rock slides and road closures didn't stop tourism from Booming in Sevier County in recent years.

But will the latest spill and possible closure of the Smokies take a toll on the industry this time around?

Lorena Estrada spent the Thursday afternoon in Gatlinburg talking to some folks.

Lorena, what'd they have to say about all this?

Alan, there's definitely some concern for some of the businesses and attractions in Gatlinburg.
They're not only having to recover from Tuesday's sewage spill-- but now a federal shutdown may close the community's major economic engine-- the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hundreds of visitors came all this way to enjoy the spring in East Tennessee, but some like Jeff Sisk from South Carolina, say they would have delayed their trip after learning about Wednesday's sewage spill.

Jeff Sisk says,
"I would have given it several weeks before coming up, just the immediate impact I know it'd clear soon but I wouldn't come with it being so soon

Mark Hogue says
"It's going to impact tourism to what extent we don't know"

Mark Hogue works at Riverside Motor Lodge in the heart of Gatlinburg, where he says the spill is still on everyone's mind... But the town may be facing one other hit.

Mark Houge says,
"Everyone's concerned between government shutting down and the treatment facility."

A government shutdown would close the Smokies... one major economic engine for the community feeding the network of surrounding restaurants shops and attractions.

Mark Houge says,
"That's a huge impact because the park sees 8-9 million visitors a year and that would be huge here if they shut down."

It'd be huge because many come to East Tennessee to check out its landmark.... that's why Kyle Moses and Nathan King are here.

Nathan King says,
"I'm glad I went there because I wanted to see it for myself, in case they do shut it down."

Whether or not our nation's parks will see a shutdown, the mayor of Pigeon Forge says there's still plenty to do here in East Tennessee.

Mayor Keith Whaley says,
"we've got Dollywood, a lot of amusements fine restaurants."

And he's got one more message for potential visitors. He says the spill had no immediate impact in the area, and Pigeon Forge's water is safe.

Mayor Keith Whaley says,
"we want to let them know especially with the Easter season coming up at the end of the month we want to let folks know they can still come enjoy the area without the fear of having to change their plans."


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