Thanksgiving holiday brings tourism dollars to Sevier County

Thanksgiving holiday brings tourism dollars to Sevier County

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By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE)—  Business owners are thankful in Sevier County tonight for the boom in tourism that comes with the holidays.

For weeks, some area hotels have been sold out and families from all over the country gather in East Tennessee.  

On Thanksgiving afternoon, some people waited up to an hour just to have thanksgiving dinner at the Applewood Farmhouse Grill.  

Applewood cooked up almost a half of ton of turkey for its patrons, which included holiday meals for many tourists.

"It's one of the biggest days of the year. We feed 2,000 people and at our sister restaurant next store another 2,000," said Trevor Townsend, general manager of Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant & Grill.  

It's more than a turkey dinner that brings the crowds to Sevier County.

This time of year, Christmas celebrations, attractions and holiday shows help to bring more people into town.

"I like the feeling of Christmas on thanksgiving," said 16 year old Sierra Smith, visiting from Frankfort, Kentucky.

Spending Thanksgiving in Pigeon Forge with her grandparents has been a family tradition for Sierra Smith. She's come to Pigeon Forge every year since she was six.

"I like coming to Pigeon Forge for Thanksgiving because it's different than home and how all the other ordinary families do it," Smith said.  

Thanksgiving and the holiday season are some of the busiest for tourism in the county.  

More tourism dollars are expected to be spent in Sevier County this year than last year, according to University of Tennessee economist Dr. Steven Morse.

Sevier County, which drives the East Tennessee vacation market, had an 8.4 percent increase in hotel room sales from January to September this year compared to the same nine month period last year, according to Morse's study.  

The trend will likely continue through December, a boom for Sevier County as it enters the holiday season, said Morse.  

The Inn at Christmas Place is seeing huge crowds this holiday weekend.

"Thanksgiving weekend has been booked out for almost three months, it just remarkable how much traffic has come through here," said Rich Rodriguez director of Guest Services for the Inn at Christmas Place. 

Although the traffic looks remarkably busy on Thursday, many are expecting even bigger crowds when Black Friday shoppers invade area stores.    

"This place will be crazy tomorrow," Townsend said. 

The holiday season at the Titanic Museum attraction kicks off Thanksgiving night with a major Disney-style fireworks extravaganza with special events also taking place.

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