Lynn Collins has honed the art of eavesdropping. It began innocently enough, unavoidable even, since nothing but a cubicle separates her from the foot traffic of downtown Waynesville.
SEE ALSO: A new paradigm
But her accidental eavesdropping soon became intentional. From her desk at the back of the busy visitor center on Main Street, Collins keeps one ear tuned in to the tourists who pour through the door. It became her secret weapon in the fiercely competitive game of landing the almighty tourist dollar in the mountains: what’s driving them to come here, and what are they looking for when they get here?
For decades, mountain tourism strategists have concocted catchy ways to state the obvious: come visit us because we are in the mountains.
It was so predictable. And there were only so many ways you could say it.
After a split vote that followed nearly an hour of discussion, the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority hired three different marketing companies for a five-month period ending when the new fiscal year begins in June.
Jackson County tourism leaders are weighing the best way to get their message to the masses.
From wedding planners to elk tour guides to non-profit organizations, the closing of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hasn’t only disrupted the livelihood of federal workers.
The park is home to a wide variety of outside enterprises working independently yet inextricably tied to it. In many ways, the federal impasse that caused the ongoing shutdown has hurt these operations more than the federal workers who have been furloughed.
The impasse at the federal level will touch all areas of operation at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway, closing picnic areas, campgrounds, bathrooms, visitor centers and historic sites.
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.
The Jackson County tourism industry adopted a new logo last week to go with their new slogan: “Play On.”
Two Maggie Valley aldermen recently indicated that they have a laundry list of grievances against the town’s mayor, but there is one complaint that stands out among the rest.