Monday, June 16, 2008
Tennesseans urged to vacation in state
Associated Press • June 16, 2008 Looking to compensate for declining attendance, state officials are marketing state parks to locals looking for cheaper vacation destinations. "I think the fuel prices are going to affect our out-of-state travelers coming to see us this year," said Murray Crow, the state's regional park manager. Instead of a long-distance trip to the beach, park officials want Tennesseans to consider a cool mountain stream. Travelers can check out a new feature, "Less Than One Tank Trips," on the state parks Web site. "Economically, I think we're a really good bargain, especially for individuals within a 50- or 100-radius of a park," Crow said. Tennessee has 53 state parks, including six resort parks with inns, cabins, restaurants and golf. Records show that attendance at the resort parks — Fall Creek Falls, Henry Horton, Montgomery Bell, Natchez Trace, Pickwick Landing and Paris Landing — was low but steady as gas prices rose over the past two years. Park Manager Jim Hall at Fall Creek Falls said he noticed a bit of a difference in visitors over the Memorial Day weekend, but said the park stayed busy. "Just driving through looking at license plates, I did observe fewer out-of-state and more Tennessee," he said. "Every parking place was full. The park was very active and we had a lot of folks over the holiday." Fall Creek Falls pumped $1.8 million into renovations last year designed to increase recreational vehicle attendance. Hall said the improvement could attract more people, but given the high price of gas, it's still a guessing game. "Memorial Day, the Fourth of July are probably going to be busy, regardless," he said. "The proof will be what the visitation looks like on a non-holiday, regular summer weekend outing.