PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – The tourism scene in Pigeon Forge changed one year ago with the addition of the LeConte Center.
The Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism says in its first year there have been 25 events held there, and they say each of those events is playing a huge part in all of Sevier County tourism.
“Those 25 events brought in 250,000 people through the doors of the LeConte Center,” said Leon Downey, Pigeon Forge Tourism Director.
When those 250,000 people are in town, they are spending money.
Next door at Bear Crossing Condominiums, they say they are reaping the benefits.
“If there is anything going on over there we are full, and it’s been a blessing for us because it’s brought in revenue,” said Wanda Ruth Bradley at Bear Crossing.
Tourism officials researched three of those 25 events, and those three alone added $24.2 million in local spending and $2.4 million in tax revenue for Pigeon Forge, Sevier County, and the State of Tennessee.
“What we want to do is be the attractor. The building, the box has to be here big enough to accommodate the groups, but we want them to spend as much time, as much money in the community as possible,” said Downey.
The largest event brought in was the National Quartet Convention. It brought about 40,000 people to Pigeon Forge and could not be held there before because there was not a large enough space.
“This is a place where they want to go on vacation anyway, so being able to place our event in the heart of where they want to vacation, like I say, it was just a winning combination,” said Clarke Beasley, Executive Vice President for the National Quartet Convention.
The tourism department and local businesses are hoping the success story will continue.
“I feel like we’re achieving what this building was designed for,” said Downey.
“People that were staying here booked in advance for next year for some of the things,” said Bradley.
Tourism officials say they are continuing to research new events to bring in next year hoping to add even more and continue to increase that tourism impact. They are focusing on four different types of conventions: large assembly groups, trade shows, competitive events, and festivals.