Cocke County hopes to expand tourism

The Pigeon River provides a natural place for rafting trips in Cocke County. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

HARTFORD, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Cocke County hopes to expand tourism by building on the natural attractions the county already has.

The county is home to a dozen whitewater rafting companies, and makes $2 per person each trip down the Pigeon River.

County Tourism Director Lina Lewanski says nearly $35 million dollars comes into the county each year as a direct result of tourism, and she hopes to grow that number this year.

"We've got an opportunity for them to stop and enjoy Cocke County," said Lewanski. "After that they can go hiking , lot of our rafters have added zip lines and rope courses so there's lots of things to do."

Chris Summerville with Nantahala Outdoor Center believes that Cocke County can expand and encourage people to stay longer with those other activities for families to enjoy.

"I think Cocke County has a great opportunity here with the Pigeon River and the Great Smoky Mountains being so close. I think there's a lot of good things in the future," said Summerville.

More than $1 million people enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Cocke County.

Rafting companies are gearing up for a big summer ahead, with the official season starting the Memorial Day weekend.

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