To say that Thanksgiving weekend is a cash cow for Smoky Mountain towns like Sevierville would be putting it very lightly. This past long weekend, which included Thanksgiving and the quasi-holiday of Black Friday saw long lines, long waits, and even longer receipts in stores and restaurants.
Area cabin rentals and hotels had been sold out for weeks – an encouraging sign in these economic times, all that was left was for people to return to their buying habits of years past. And oh did they. Restaurants like the new Joe’s Crab Shack at Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Mall, Red Lobster, and the Applewood Farmhouse reported waits over the weekend as long as an hour and many local eateries even stayed open to serve Thanksgiving dinner. Thousands people came through Sevierville restaurants over the weekend be it locals and visitors alike.
It helped that it was a holiday weekend, but with all the Christmas events and shopping opportunities, the Smokies are just coming into their busy season. Most, being it cabin rental companies, hotels, or just retail stores, mark Thanksgiving as the start of the busy shopping/traveling season in the Smoky Mountains.
Even officials with the University of Tennessee in nearby Knoxville have gotten in on the act, predicting a strong year economically for the area as compared to 2011.
Sevier County, considered the engine that powers the East Tennessee tourism machine, saw an 8.4 percent increase in hotel room sales from January to September 2012 compared to the same nine month period last year. This from UT officials. After this weekend, it’s likely that the trend will continue through the end of the year. A great way to start the busy holiday season in the Smokies and an even better way to end it.