Smoky Mountains looking for a strong Spring/Summer season
SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Sevierville Chamber of commerce says they are focusing efforts on people who live close to the area instead of those who have to drive from far locations.
"That's what so wonderful about Sevierville is we are a value destination and you can come here for a lot less than you can go to other places going the beach, going to Florida," said Amanda Marr, Public Relations Manager for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce. "Really the whole smoky mountain destination is 3 distinct destinations in one location."
Marr says that with the area being an affordable family destination, it would be a good option for people to visit who can drive in for the day.
Dr. Steve Morse, Economist & Associate Professor with the University of Tennessee says it would be a smart option for vacationers, but this year the county is facing the toughest challenge yet to get the all might tourist dollar.
"The gulf coast is spending $20 million on advertising," said Morse. "Gas prices sometimes play a positive roll in that, it draws people from closer areas instead of going to central Florida or the Gulf Coast they can come to the mountains of Tennessee instead of an extra days drive."
Morse says the area can look for a strong season, but look for changes in spending habits by visitors. He says sales at the outlets are down drastically, and people are eating out fewer nights when they are visiting the area. Restaurant sales were down 11%, compared to gas station and grocery store sales being up 10% in 2011 compared to 2010.
"People are still coming here, they are still spending money, they're just tightening their belts. Maybe spending a few less days here, doing a few less activities," Morse added.
Morse added that some places in the country are coming out of the recession, and some tourist areas would hope to be in as good of shape as East Tennessee.