It’s been a little more than one month since deadly wildfires ravaged Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and other areas of eastern Tennessee near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Already the words of encouragement local tourism officials provided travelers in the days after are paying off as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge appear to have experienced a much-needed rebound over the holiday season.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, many businesses within the tourist hotspots that emerged unscathed say they barely missed a beat during what is typically one of the region’s busiest times of the year.
The destruction of rental properties located farther outside of downtown Gatlinburg likely contributed to a spike in hotel bookings. The Gatlinburg Inn having been sold out the week after Christmas, per the News Sentinel. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to see tourism reach new heights that we haven’t seen before in the city.”
The Digital and Social Media Director at nearby Pigeon Forge’s Chamber of Commerce also expressed optimism to the News Sentinel. Micah-Sage Bolden said she’s confident that the resort town, home to Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park, experienced a surge in tourism business over the holidays.
Dollywood was one of the area’s top attractions that were fortunate to be spared in November’s fires. “If people just keep their plans and come, I think everything will be fine,” Gatlinburg’s Pancake Pantry restaurant’s president Gary Myers told the News Sentinel. “People love Gatlinburg and they love to come here.”
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