Smoky Mountains resort destination continues post-recession rebound
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Feb. 22, 2013) – The Great Smoky Mountains resort city of Pigeon Forge set a record in 2012 for gross receipts – $905,878,531. That was a gain of $75 million.
Mayor David Wear announced the total at a meeting of the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association that serves as the annual “State of the City” address.
“The year started strong and stayed that way,” Wear said. “Every month was strong, and virtually every business sector posted increases over 2011. Our tourism-based economy is extraordinary for a city with only 6,400 residents.”
The two largest business sectors saw substantial increases. Gross receipts for amusements were slightly less than $145 million, up 14 percent, while gross receipts for lodging were $147.3 million, up 11 percent.
The previous gross receipts record was $872.5 million in 2007, the last year before multiple years of a national economic recession.
“Pigeon Forge was resilient during the recession. We had modest declines for two years, but nothing like the major drops in many other destinations,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
The low point during the recession was $772.6 million in 2009. Growth resumed in 2010 ($806 million) and 2011 ($830.3 million).
“Our guests return again and again to enjoy their favorite activities along with new attractions, restaurants, shops and experiences,” Downey said. “Pigeon Forge is a dynamic place, and our guests have come to expect things that are new and different.”
Among the new experiences in 2012 were Dollywood’s Wild Eagle roller coaster, the Wonders of Flight tethered balloon attraction, the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Smoky Mountain Opry and the Titanic Museum Attraction’s commemoration of the centennial of the ship’s sinking.
“As a city, Pigeon Forge has been investing in itself for more than three decades, and private businesses have seen great opportunities here. We are poised to make 2013 another solid year,” Wear said.
The city’s $45 million LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge will open this fall, providing a venue for major trade shows, competitive events and assemblies such as church-organized youth rallies.
Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is online at MyPigeonForge.com and from 800-251-9100.
Tom Adkinson, APR