Franklin residents have taken it upon themselves to get the word out about the town’s recognition as the “Top Small Town” by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.
Since the award was announced in November, the big question has been how to capitalize on the designation and bring more visitors to town. Because the award is given out each year, time is of the essence to spread the good word.
If discussions between Nantahala Outdoor Center and Jackson County continue to move forward, the outdoor recreation giant could start work this year on an adventure park and outfitter store in the tiny town of Dillsboro.
Every month, the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority shells out $2,650 to keep its website updated, get it to show up prominently in search results and analyze digital traffic.
The new management at Sequoyah National Golf Club in Cherokee had hoped to start turning a profit within a year of taking the helm in the fall of 2014 — and while the course is still operating at a loss, the light at the end of the tunnel is drawing near, manager Kenny Cashwell said.
The winter tourism industry in Haywood County is reeling from unseasonably warm temperatures that have shuttered Cataloochee Ski Area during what’s usually one of its busiest times of the year.
Lynda Doucett and her staff at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were pretty excited to move into the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center when it opened back in 2011. The staff on that side of the park had been stuffed into the tiny little “temporary” visitor center next door in the old administration building since 1948, so the brand new $3.5 million building was definitely going to be an upgrade.
But the 2011 move involved change beyond increased floor space and better interpretive displays. The more impressive building enticed more of the visitors driving by to stop in, and because the timing coincided with an overall surge of visitation in the park, there were more passerbys overall.
It took only minutes for the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority to approve Nick Breedlove as its new contracted director last week, but for Breedlove that moment was months in the making. While the 30-year-old Webster mayor, journalist and photography business owner has plenty of tasks to fill his time, when he first heard the TDA was fishing for a director, it didn’t take long for him to decide to throw his hat in the ring.
Alaska Presley has had plenty of good intentions and ideas for Ghost Town in the Sky since she bought the rundown amusement park out of foreclosure in 2012.
It’s a feeling that Chris Bates can’t shake. “Being outside, in the winter, on the mountain — there’s nothing like it,” he said. “There’s a sense of exhilaration when you’re on a pair of skis. It’s a rush I’ve never gotten enough of.”
Bates, who has been the general manager at Cataloochee Ski Area for 17 years, is sitting inside the main lodge high above Maggie Valley this past Monday morning. Gazing out the windows onto the snowy slopes, the troves of eager skiers and snowboarders already cruising down the mountain, Bates can’t help to be excited that the 54th season at “Cat” got underway this week.
If the selection panel’s pick gets the backing of the full board, Jackson County’s likely to have a new tourism director in place by the time 2016 rolls around.