Banner tourism summer in Sevier County
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - With the end of summer upon us, Sevier County is celebrating a banner summer for tourism with lodging numbers up by more than 10%.
University of Tennessee Economist and Associate Professor Steve Morse, says it is a year for Sevier County to be proud of. He says they outpaced other areas that attract similar audiences.
"I think that's great news during a recession and I think people are looking for value family vacations. I think Sevier County's done a great job marketing themselves," said Morse. "Branson, Missouri in the Midwest have different feeder markets that were highly effected by the unemployment in the auto industry as oppose to Sevierville where a lot of their feeder cities are doing quite well."
Morse says two other destinations, Myrtle Beach, SC and Branson, MO attract families looking for value and Sevier County was a winner. Myrtle Beach was up 4.5% but Branson was down 1.1%.
In Pigeon Forge, Businesses have noticed the difference in this summer over the last. While only in business for a year, Hatfield and McCoy Dinner show added a third daily show this summer just to keep up with demand.
"We're up considerably from last year. So we've been able to offer a combo package so anyone can see any two of our shows for a lower price because ultimately the guests of Pigeon Forge want the best bang for their buck," said Michael McElroy with Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group. "We're very fortunate to have a whole lot of new visitors."
McElroy, who's company operates three theaters in Sevier County says all his company's shows are up. He said the casts of Hatfield and McCoy and Smoky Mountain Opry are currently preparing for the Christmas season with an all new line up.
Morse and McElroy first are focused on the Labor Day weekend, which they expect will be a busy one for the Smokies.