GSMNP visitation trending upward

Visitation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the rise, a good sign for Western North Carolina counties who depend on the park as a key cog in the tourism industry.

June was up 7.2 percent over the same month a year ago as 1,202,056 visitors passed through the entrances to the park. Year-to-date visitation is up 11.5 percent — 410,767 — over the same period in 2011.

The first half of 2012 is also up 3.6 percent above the five-year average of number of visitors during the same time period.

The June increase follows similar increases in May, March and February.

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