Tour Companies Put Pigeon Forge Under Microscope

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Aug. 11, 2014) – Pigeon Forge is putting itself on display for 55 VIPs this week in hopes that they will bring thousands of tourists to this Great Smoky Mountains resort town.

The Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism put the word out to the group sales industry about a three-day familiarization tour from Tuesday through Thursday.

“It filled up almost immediately with 55 tour operators from 33 companies in seven states,” said Joy McNealy, senior sales manager for the tourism department, noting that the city is entertaining companies from Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.

“Some who are coming needed to see all that’s new in town, and others never have been to Pigeon Forge. It’s a great opportunity to sell ourselves,” she said.

Most participating tour companies deal in retail group travel, but others specialize in student travel, family reunions and business meetings.

There is a fixed itinerary for all participants that includes Dollywood, the Titanic Museum Attraction and performances at the Lumberjack Feud, the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, the Smoky Mountain Opry and the Grand Majestic Theater.

Then, there are options to see other shows such as Dixie Stampede, Country Tonite, Memories Theatre and the Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery.

“You simply can’t show everything in town, so giving people options that suit their own needs is a necessity,” McNealy said.

A trade show on Thursday at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge will provide opportunities for 35 Pigeon Forge businesses to make sales pitches. Businesses include attractions, theaters, lodging properties, cabin companies, restaurants and receptive tour companies.

“The group tour market is extremely important to Pigeon Forge,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the tourism department.

“The American Bus Association is fond of saying that just one overnight stay from a motorcoach can represent as much as $25,000 in revenue to a city. The spending per motorcoach isn’t quite that high for Pigeon Forge, of course, but every tour brings major dollars to town. We love to see tour companies’ motorcoaches roll down the Parkway,” Downey said.

Visitor information for individuals is at, and information for group tour leaders is at


Tom Adkinson, APR

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