Cataloochee Ranch under new ownership

Cataloochee Ranch, a Haywood County landmark and a vacationer’s mountain paradise, has changed hands after being in the Alexander family since 1933. 

Haywood County’s ‘Stay home – stay safe’ order, explained

On the morning of March 26, the Haywood County Board of Commissioners became the latest public body in North Carolina to issue restrictions on movement in an effort to halt the spread of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Haywood County restricts movement except for essential activity

As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to spread, Haywood County and all four of its municipalities will now prohibit non-essential activity through April 16.

Smokies shatters visitation records: Congestion issues prompt park to seek community input

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains logged a collective 3.7 million visits to park entrances in North Carolina west of Asheville last year, an 8.5 percent increase over 2018. 

The Smokies overall demolished visitation records, with preliminary numbers showing 12.55 million visits in 2019 — a 9.9 percent increase over the 11.42 million seen in 2018. Foothills Parkway West accounted for about 67.7 percent of the 1.3 million additional visitors after a new 16.5-mile section of the road opened in November 2018, making 2019 the first full year it was open. More than 1.5 million people drove on the 33-mile section that includes the new piece of road.

Smokies visitation tops 12 million

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw a record 12.55 million visits in 2019, an increase of 1.13 million over 2018, which was also a record-breaking year.

Swain tourism authority requests aquarium expansion

The Swain County Tourism Development Authority has approached the county about expanding the Appalachian Rivers Aquarium that just opened its doors in downtown Bryson City last summer. 

The aquarium is still working out some kinks and stocking the tanks with fish since opening in July, but already those operating the facility see the need for more functional space in order to keep growing it as a tourism attraction. 

Free at a cost: Entrance fee prohibition creates challenges for the Smokies

Growing up in West Asheville, Daniel Pierce was a frequent visitor to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park was — and still is — free to enter, and to Pierce that was normal. 

“I’ll never forget the first time I went in a national park that charged an entrance fee,” said Pierce, who now holds a doctorate and is a history professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville who specializes in Smokies history. “I was just horrified by the thought that you would have to pay to go into a national park.”

VRBO changes the way it remits taxes

The explosion of online vacation rental booking options like VRBO and Airbnb has completely changed the tourism industry, and while it’s been beneficial for Western North Carolina communities, it has also presented a challenge for counties trying to collect occupancy and sales taxes from overnight visitors. 

Swain room tax revenue exceeds $1 million

Swain County’s tourism industry recently marked a major milestone when the occupancy tax revenue from fiscal year 2018-19 exceeded $1 million for the first time. 

Jackson plans for growth

Last year was a good one for the tourism industry in Jackson County, with visitor spending in 2018 increasing by 5.3 percent over 2017 numbers, according to recently released figures from the state tourism office Visit North Carolina.

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