For the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, tourism is a huge deal and they're aiming to greet tourists and other visitors with open arms in the safest way possible. The state of Tennessee has allowed recreational businesses such as arcades, mini-golf, and go-kart racing tracks to open on Friday along with the Smoky Mountain National Park on Saturday. This was concluded after the state had its meeting with the top tourism officials and business owners within the Sevier County.
Commissioner of the Tourist Development sector in the Tennessee Department Mark Ezell said that it was high priority for business owners to be educated on safety protocols. He further stressed that all safety guidelines needed to be followed in order to ensure the continued safety of both workers and visitors. Ezell also indicated that they assumed a lot of visitors were eagerly waiting to opportunity to be back in Tennessee once again.
All of this comes from the fact that Tennessee is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. He also stressed that they need to be ready and waiting when visitors arrive, and that they also need to ensure that everyone adheres to strict social distancing rules. This comes due to observations that the locals were wearing masks and keeping with sanitation guidelines in public spaces.
When it comes to the economy of towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, tourism is extremely important. Countless citizens have been out of work in the hospitality industries because of the pandemic. Hence, leaders are urged to make critical decisions that benefit these types of businesses. When businesses are back up and running, visitors can easily and safely return after the long shutdown.
He even suggested that because of the pandemic and the need for functionality, Tennessee needed to be among the first states to open back the restaurants, the economy, and the retail departments. Several small recreational attractions already put the Parkway in Pigeon Forge in a great spot.
They'll open up with a capacity of just 50%. However, since it limits the number of persons going in, social distancing can be done and maintained to keep everyone safe. Businesses such as lodging, restaurants, and even retail outlets have already opened their doors to customers and they've had success as they followed the Tennessee Pledge guidelines.
Due to the success thus far, everyone is confident that the Sevier County business owners will be cautious and follow the necessary guidelines to ensure that everyone is safe. Ezell went on to say that they're ready since most businesses in Sevier are used to large crowds and plenty customers each day. He further went on to indicate that business owners are already taking the necessary precautions with workers, masks, proper sanitation and just about every preventative measure that is needed to help people come back into the country.
Other popular areas of the Smokies will also be opened on Saturday as park officials are continuing to encourage social distancing among visitors. However, there is still no word on the local distillers and if tasting would be available to the public just yet. He also sent praises out to businesses who started producing hand sanitizer.
Attractions such as Dollywood, Ripley's Aquarium, and dinner theaters are still on the list to be opened in the future. Ezell said that those mentioned and lots more would be opened during the second phase.