Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg preparing for upcoming spring break business boom

The CDC wants spring breakers to stay safe. It recommends staying home instead of hitting the road.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — The CDC recommends delaying spring break travel this year, but tourist hotspots, like Sevier County, are still preparing for the inevitable vacationers.

In a couple of weeks, school districts across East Tennessee will start their spring breaks, which could mean an uptick in travel and crowds.

The Executive Director for the Pigeon Forge Tourism Department, Leon Downey, revealed travel inquiries are up 20 percent already this year.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we will have a good March, and I’m sure it’ll be better than it was last March,” Downey laughed.

Downey can say that as of January, the town’s gross receipts revenue was up 47 percent, amusement revenue was up 60 percent, lodging revenue was up 48 percent over last year and restaurant revenue was up 31 percent. 

“Those seem to be good indicators that people want to be here,” Downey said.

The city doesn’t expect the growth to slow down, especially with Dollywood opening back up on March 13.

“For the 33 years I’ve been here, I consider that the kickoff to our spring tourism season,” Downey nodded.

Pigeon Forge businesses are taking safety precautions, like requiring masks and limiting capacity.

Psychologists say getting out for spring break could be beneficial for your mental health as long as you do it safely.

Keep your mask on, social distance and get outside. If you stay with your core group of people, like the family you live with, it could be easy to do a staycation or take a day trip to somewhere like Asheville or Chattanooga.

Just taking time to relax and unplug can do wonders for your mind, according to Ben Harrington, the CEO at the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee.

“It’s incredibly important to just take a break, to take time to unwind,” Harrington noted.

Just knowing you have vacation time coming up can help you get through those grueling work days.

“It could be inspiration that powers you through to make sure okay, if I really need to put in a couple extra hours, this week, I can put them in because I know what the reward is,” Harrington explained.

Don’t over plan or stress yourself out during your time away from work and school. Spring break can be a good opportunity to reboot and recharge your mind, even if it is on your back porch.

Loudon County goes on spring break March 8 through 12.

Anderson, Blount, Knox, and Jefferson counties are set to start spring break March 15.

Claiborne, Grainger, Hamblen and Monroe counties have theirs March 29 until April 2.

Cocke, Sevier and Union counties will go on break April second through 9.

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