Smoky Mountains looking for a strong Spring/Summer season

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.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Jeffrey Location: Townsend on Mar 5, 2012 at 05:13 AM
    I think the backcountry fee has affected visitation at least from locals who are upset about it. I know a lot of people have been talking about it in town. I hope things like that can be put behind us and we can get back to the mountains the way it used to be.
  • by Phillip Location: Nashville on Feb 28, 2012 at 04:23 PM
    BoB Miller should tell those in charge that if the rangers did not treat visitors as if they had done something wrong and work backwards from that position more might visit. They won't even let the kids jump from some rocks in Townsend that their parents jumped from as children. Are the inmates running the asylum?
    • reply
      by Phyllis on Mar 4, 2012 at 05:45 PM in reply to Phillip
      I think the Rangers do a wonderful job. Some of the things we did as children were foolish and dangerous. Now that we know better, we can do better. Once in a while we need to be protected form ourselves. Have you seen the stubborn people at The Sinks still climbing on the slick rocks? And right next to the sign that cautions them against it. Thumbs up for our Park Rangers!!!


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