Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee-North Carolina border’

As 2010 comes to a close, visits to Great Smoky Mountains National Park are keeping pace with 2009 traffic.

Through November, visits to the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border were 1.7 percent ahead of year-before visits to date despite a steep November drop at the Gatlinburg park entrance and a year plagued by road construction.

In 2009, there were nearly 9.5 million visitors to the park.

Through November, visits to Deep Creek near Bryson City were up 3.4 percent over last year, Miller said.

The number of visitors at the Cherokee entrance to the park increased by 4.3 percent through November of this year compared with last year, he said. Visits to Cataloochee were down around 3 percent compared with 2009.

Tourism officials in both Cherokee and Bryson City say 2010 is shaping up to be a good year.

Based on room tax numbers, “We have had a very, very good year,” said Karen Wilmot, executive director of the Swain County Chamber of Commerce.

Cherokee also saw tourism gains during the 2010 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, said Mary Ferguson, director of marketing and promotion for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

“It started out a bit slow in October of 2009, and every month except January we saw an increase,” Ferguson said.

Weather problems closed U.S. 441 — the key corridor through the park — for part of the winter.

“Certainly that (U.S.) 441 corridor through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a tremendous impact on business in Cherokee,” Ferguson said.

But Miller said those weather closures probably didn’t have a huge effect on the overall number of park visitors.

In November, overall Smokies visits fell 12.4 percent, the Park Service said. The decline was most dramatic at the Gatlinburg entrance, where traffic was off 25.3 percent. The other two main park entrances were also down — 12.3 percent at Townsend and 2.5 percent at Cherokee.
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