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The debate over the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority budget was bumped up another notch last week when dozens of business owners and members of the Cashiers community flooded a budget meeting demanding more money for the Cashiers visitor center.

If the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority is footing the bill for a magazine ad, brochure, sign — you name it — the tourism agency deserves recognition, tourism board members reaffirmed last week.

The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority is the latest voice to enter the fray as the county ponders a $700,000 grant to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in exchange for the promise of more tourists.

The mountains are an undeniable tourist magnet, but with so many WNC destinations to chose from, the crusade to stand out from the pack is prompting county tourism agencies to constantly refine and redefine their message.

What will entice a vacationer to their corner of the Smokies — will outdoor adventures catch their eye, a quaint downtown draw them in or mountain music festivals win them over?

If anyone opposes an increase in Haywood County’s overnight lodging tax, they did not make their enmity known at Monday’s board of commissioners meeting.

Haywood County tourism leaders want to increase the tax on overnight lodging to fund special tourism-related capital projects, including a Jonathan Creek sports complex — a proposal that seems to have traction with county commissioners as well.

The newly formed Jackson County Tourism Development Authority is taking on the task of “branding,” an important first step for the entity that’s been tasked with developing a unified tourism promotion strategy for the county.

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority has launched a new website with information specifically for lodging owners.

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.

After more than a year of wrangling, a new Jackson County tourism authority was finally created this week, its board members officially named, and formal marching orders handed down.

The overhaul of tourism operations in Jackson County are intended to bring a new approach to tourism marketing and promotions, and hopefully increase tourism. Past tourism marketing efforts were stymied by turf wars and duplication of efforts by similar agencies.

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