When it comes to Gatlinburg, tourism is heartbeat of entire community

(Photo: WKRN)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WKRN) – In a town like Gatlinburg, tourism is the heartbeat of the entire community.

A mother-daughter duo came from Mississippi to relive childhood memories and create new ones, too.

“It’s beautiful. It looks just like it did when I was younger,” said Rana Cook, from Meridian.

Gatlinburg is rebuilding its historic landmarks and making news ones for millions to see.

“The mountains are gorgeous, everything is in full bloom, everything is green,” said Cook.

Photo: WKRN

Visitors bureau CEO Mark Adams says the spring was slower than last, but with record numbers from 2016, it’s hard to compare.

“All of our business owners are very optimistic at what we are seeing now that spring has arrived,” Adams told News 2.

He says his organization is targeting 15 different cities to encourage people to visit the Great Smoky Mountains.

“From Chicago all the way down toward the Atlanta, Birmingham area, Cincinnati, Nashville,” Adams explained.

He says many people are coming back to see what is left after those wildfires swept through.

(Photo: WKRN)

“People have been coming to Gatlinburg for generations and decades and they’ve got memories,” he told News 2.

And when those visitors get there, they are quite surprised that almost everything is open and ready for businesses.

“I haven’t seen anything that is damaged. Everything is still here. I was worried when we come up here that things would be gone but it is not,” Cook told News 2.

Adams says the biggest way for you to help is by coming to visit because your tax dollars can go a long way for someone who is rebuilding their business.

“They were down for so long at the beginning of the year, so now we are really trying to rebound and make up that difference,” he explained.

So the busy streets on this mid-May afternoon are a sign of better days to come for Adams and the rest of the business owners.