Gatlinburg, TN wildfire impacts tourism

Wildfires jeopardize vacation plans for would-be travelers to Gatlinburg, TN

(KFVS) - Many of us have vacationed in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and given the fact that it's the prime tourist season, no doubt some of you may have hoped to head that way soon.

Some Gatlinburg tourists are calling into travel offices worried about their travel plans.

"We went to the lumber jack show, Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, I mean there's just so many family activities there," travel expert Carolyn Sandgren-Kempf said.

Sandgren-Kempf has gone to Gatlinburg at least once a year for more than 20 years.

"This is peak season for Gatlinburg, this is the prime season so they are usually sold out now and New Year's," she said. "So financially it's just not a good thing."

A huge wildfire is destroying hundreds of buildings in the area and ruining vacation plans.

"I'm really sad it's a place really close to home for me," Sandgren-Kempf said. "We've been fielding lots of calls today asking us if the cabins they are booked into are affected."

"The phones are jammed right now, everybody is calling people in the region are tense and stressed and you're probably not going to get the warm welcome on the phone."

She said you should have a backup plan and know what your cancel penalties are.

"Everything is in kind of chaos mode right now, all the hotels, everybody is getting bombarded with calls," Sandgren-Kempf said. "Personally, I would just wait a couple of days if you're not going within the next two weeks lets say you're going in three weeks or four weeks just give it a couple of days let them recover."

Sandgren-Kempf thinks the destruction is going to hit the tourism spot hard.

"Now with the national park being closed tourism is one of their main incomes it's going to be an economic nightmare, unfortunately," she said. "It's going to be several years of financial regrouping for that area to recover."

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