Gas Prices and Gatlinburg Vacations

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Gatlinburg (WVLT) -- Your summer vacation may cost you more than you thought thanks to gas prices that are now back above 3 bucks a gallon.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy spent the morning in Gatlinburg where he looked into how gas prices are affecting tourism there.

According to AAA, some 90 percent of Americans jump in their cars for family vacations each year.

With all the attractions in Sevier County such as Dollywood, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, many end up there.

But could three-dollar gas keep them away?

It's hard to tell as car packed the streets and people-packed sidewalks.

Gatlinburg tourists are out in full force.

"We decided to come up, hit a few of the theme parks, get some homemade candy and eat a lot of fudge," said in state traveler Christy Flinchum.

But the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains wasn't the Chattanooga's family top pick.

"We'd actually planned on going down across to the beach in Florida," Flinchum said.

It was higher gas prices that kept them closer to home.

"Who wants to go to the beach and not be able to afford to do anything?," Flinchum said.

According to AAA, the nation wide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded will cost you $3.17, already two cents more than yesterday.

A high price that could keep tourists on the lifts of Sevier County.

"We're within a days drive of 70% of the U-S population and I think they're still going to come whether the gas prices are higher or not," said Tess Warner who works at Gatlinburg's Welcome Center.

She says about three million tourists will hit the streets for souvenir, photos and t-shirts this year.

"I think it's be about even to last year," Warner said.

Gas prices didn't stop the Snelling family from vacationing in the mountains either. .

"We just planned, wanted to go and we weren't going to let that slow us down," said Greg Snelling.

But it did change how they got here from Louisiana.

"There were 6 of coming and we thought about taking 2 cars," Snelling said, "but with the higher gas prices we came in one vehicle."

And even though Flinchum didn't travel as far they did really enjoy their vacation and saved more than $150 on the trip.

"150 dollars is significant to families on vacations," Flinchum said.

Not a bad souvenir.

If you plan to hit the road with your family, here's some tips from AAA.

Choose a route that you can drive at constant speeds and avoid congested areas as much as possible.

Also, you should pack only what you need to keep your load lighter.

And finally don't strap your luggage to your cars top, because that creates more wind resistance and decreases gas mileage.

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