Economist: Sevier tourism could return to pre-recession levels soon

Sevier County tourism leaders are optimistic that 2013 could be the comeback year for people visiting the Great Smoky Mountains.

Spring Break was a big week for Sevier County. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Sevier County tourism leaders are optimistic that 2013 could be the comeback year for people visiting the Great Smoky Mountains.

Dr. Steve Morse, an economist from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, says national indicators show people are interested in taking a vacation this year. He says the U.S. Traveler Sentiment Index measures interest in travel, and this year the number has returned to levels of 2007, before the recession hit.

"Many people are looking to travel again and they feel comfortable traveling. the key for destinations like Sevier County is stiff competition with a lot of other resort areas that are offering value vacations," said Morse.

Morse believes Sevier County will see a 2-3% growth to the county's $1.5B industry, the state's 3rd largest economy. At the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association meeting on Thursday, he told the group to be ready for a year of growth.

Business owners listened with excitement. Robin Nichols, owner of the Willow Brook Lodge, says she still needs staff and wonders if she'll need to hire more, with more people coming to town.

"I'm just looking forward to it, looking forward to hire, we still need more staff at Willow Brook Lodge here in town," said Nichols. "I've noticed a lot of job fairs going on, so there's a lot of hiring going on."

Tourism created more than 18,000 jobs in Sevier County and equated to $364 million in paychecks.

Morse says the best way to grow tourism is to increase budgets for market advertising.

Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus


6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 202593541 -
Gray Television, Inc.