Smoky Mountains partner contributes $2.3M to national park

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - A retail partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park says it had its second-best year for sales and best year for membership income in 2017.

The Great Smoky Mountains Association operates the park's visitor center bookstores and said it contributed more than $2.3 million in 2017 to the national park.

Association CEO Laurel Rematore said in a news release that more than 11 million people visited the park for the second consecutive year.

The organization sold more than $173,000 in educational eclipse merchandise leading up to August's total solar eclipse, with about a quarter of that being done in the last few days before the event. Rematore says the group broke nine daily sales records at various stores during that period.

The non-profit's membership program's new recruitment numbers exceeded 11,000.