PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - The holiday season usually means big bucks for area businesses, but for one county they depend on money spent by visitors.
Sevier County's largest revenue maker is tourism. Tourism officials say December is a key month to bring in a lot of money.
Over at Huck Finn's Catfish on the Parkway December has become a very profitable month.
"It really picked up with Winterfest and the lights," said manager Chrystal England. "We see a lot more families coming in."
Another place that is doing well is the Comedy Barn. They are already selling out shows.
"Christmas time is huge in Pigeon Forge," said performer Danny DeVaney, "That week leading up to Christmas and New Year. This city is going to be packed with tourists."
Most of the visitors who come to Sevier County for the holidays drive, so the recent drop in gas prices is really going to help.
Even though there was a slump when the recession hit in 2009 things here have been picking up here nicely.
Sales tax revenue just in Pigeon Forge has been huge. When the county's Winterfest started in 1990 Pigeon Forge made more than $56 million. Twenty-three years later that number has ballooned to more than $213 million. The largest number ever and a 184 percent increase.
"It's a major season for us," said Pigeon Forge Tourism Director Leon Downey. "Winterfest has developed more into a season, not just for Pigeon Forge, but for all of Sevier County, and it has happened because the three cities decided to work together."
Downey says they are working on keeping all of the holiday tourist into the News Year, and to continue to see these big numbers into January and February.
They expect millions to visit in December.
Another place near Sevier County that has seen an increase in visitors is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
From November 2011 to November 2012, they have seen an 8.6 percent jump in visitors.