The tourism industry in Western North Carolina is not letting the shut down of visitor facilities on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or national forests in the region darken their spirits as the mountains head into the busiest tourism time of the year.
When Joe and Dolly Parker approached the entrance of the Deep Creek campground Tuesday morning, the sign read “Office Closed.”
“We can’t believe this,” Dolly said.
A retired couple from Key Largo, Fla., the Parkers spend upwards of five months each year traveling and camping around the country. Joe rides his motorcycle, with Dolly following behind in their campervan. Amid of all their stops, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of their favorites.
It may still be too soon to declare an economic rebound, but recent construction data may point toward a housing sector comeback led by high-end, new home building in Jackson County.
Tourism numbers are looking good for Haywood County so far this year, and tourism leaders are keeping their fingers crossed that a cold winter will drive visitors to Cataloochee’s slopes.
The economic situation seemed to be looking up in Jackson County: unemployment was on a steady decline; the real estate market was rebounding; and tourists were finding more expendable income to travel.
Joey Del Bosque scrolled through his appointment book for the week; time slot after time slot was filled, with just enough room to breathe.
Belle On Main, a salon and massage parlor along South Main Street in Waynesville, opened in May and quickly started picking up business.
More doom and gloom or a light at the end of the tunnel?
For five years, the nation has waited eagerly for economic forecasters to tell us what we want to hear — that home sales are rebounding, wages are finally rising, and job growth at long last is outpacing layoffs. Will 2013 bring those things at last?
• Haywood County economy outpaces its peers
• College kids gum up Jackson County’s economic stats
Ken Jacobine • Guest Columnist
As students of the Austrian School of Economics understand, financial bubbles are caused by central bank monetary policy and government intervention in the economy. The housing boom and subsequent crash in the first decade of this century is an excellent example of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (the Austrian School’s explanation for booms and busts in the economy).
For the second year in a row, area research economist Tom Tveidt delivered his state of Haywood County’s economy address — a rare look at the county’s individual resources and statistics.
Typically, economic data is collected for the region as a whole or into a metropolitan statistical area, meaning Haywood County is grouped with surrounding counties. That skews the final numbers or conclusions about its economy.
Many counties are seeing an increase in tourism-related spending this year, but most have still not bounced back to their pre-recession numbers.
The only real way for counties to measure how many tourists are stopping in their towns is through its occupancy tax revenues — that is the amount of tax revenue it receives from visitors who stay overnight in a hotel. Though even that can be slightly misleading, since people may take a daytrip somewhere and then return home at night.