Newfound Gap Road landslide affects tourism in Gatlinburg

Newfound Gap Road landslide affects tourism in Gatlinburg

Newfound Gap Road was washed away in a landslide last Wednesday. Newfound Gap Road was washed away in a landslide last Wednesday.
6 News Anchor/Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - Gatlinburg is a city that thrives on the number of visitors who make the trek to visit and shop there every year.

"Gatlinburg is a tourist town, so tourism is pretty important to us. We're a gateway community. Nine million visitors a year to the Great Smokies Mountains National Park, so it's a pretty significant impact," said Marci Claude of the Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Winter is already the slower season, and local shops say the landslide isn't helping.

With the closure of Newfound Gap Road, which is the main route for visitors from North Carolina, stores like Old Smoky Moonshine on the strip that bank on tourist dollars are worried about a possible landslide-sized hole in their revenue.

Gatlinburg does the bulk of its business in the summertime between June and August.

"It's a vital part of our success here. It's vital for us to have people here at our location coming in to purchase," said Johnny Baker of Old Smoky Moonshine.

In just the last few days, they've already noticed a drop.

"You can tell a difference. You can tell a difference in the business," said Baker.

But the road closure isn't canceling all trips for people from North Carolina. Drew Callahan or Morganton, N.C., would not be deterred. He shops at a number of stores whenever he's here.

"I come up here two or three times a year. I like to go around and look for little trinkets and ideas for gifts for people," said Callahan.

He came a different way rather than Newfound Gap Road.

"The way I look at it, it was new country that I could see," said Callahan.

Business owners hope other folks from over the Smokies will follow suit.

"It is a little bit out of the way, but with GPS and the desire to get here, we're still open for business," said Baker.

For information on alternate routes to Gatlinburg, call the Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau at 865-430-4148 or visit their website.

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