Sevier County tourism towers over Myrtle Beach, Branson numbers

6:03 PM, Sep 19, 2012   |    comments
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When it comes to the number of hotel rooms sold, Sevier County is blasting Myrtle Beach and Branson away in 2012.

University of Tennessee professor Dr. Steve Morse teaches tourism management.  He sifted through statistics provided by Smith Travel Research.

Morse counted the number of hotel rooms sold from January to July 2012 and compared the totals with the same time period in 2011.

Sevier County has noticed a 10.5% increase.

Myrtle Beach, SC witnessed a 4.5% increase.

Branson, MO saw a 1.1% decrease in hotel rooms sold.

Sevier County tourism officials said marketing, strong advertising budgets, new lodging and attractions helped attract more visitors.

"We did it purposely [spent more money on advertising] to get people to come.  We've had more campaigns, longer lasting campaigns, to get people's attention in this economy realizing they're going to be very frugal in the decisions they make," said Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism Director Leon Downy.

"We are such a value destination," said Amanda Marr with the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.  "It's affordable to come here.  It's convenient.  It's close by.  People don't have to drive a long time to get here and there's so much to do."

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also noticing more visits.  Year to date, the GSMNP is up 9% from the same time last year.

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