Oak Ridge, Anderson County still popular destination for tourists

Amid economic concerns, travelers are still coming to Oak Ridge and Anderson County,

Stephanie Wells, director of Adventure Anderson County, which promotes tourism in the Anderson County area, said it is possible that rising gasoline prices may even be increasing tourism in the area.

Pictured are Julie Graham, co-chair and Middle East Tennessee tourism council director;  from left, Stephanie Wells, co-chair and Adventure Anderson County director;  Glennis Monday, Campbell County litter grant officer, Keith Montgomery, Big Ridge park manager and Veronica Greear, Norris Dam State Park manager.

“I am predicting that inflation and gas prices will not have much of a negative effect on our area. These factors will probably lead to an increase in visitation to our area. Every year, we have seen an increase even through the recession of 2008. I think it boils down to, Americans will still travel, even through a recession or a pandemic, and they are more likely to visit a destination that is closer to home and more affordable,” she said. “A lot of people also bought ‘toys’ during the pandemic that they still need a place to use, like boats, off-road vehicles, RVs, etc.”

Both she and Katy Watt, president of Explore Oak Ridge, an organization funded by hotel and motel taxes that promotes tourism in the Oak Ridge area, cited various signs that local tourism is going strong or possibly even increasing this year.

Watt said the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t harm area tourism as much as it could have.

Katy Watt, Explore Oak Ridge president

“Even though the pandemic hit tourism hard across the entire state, having an extensive selection of outdoor activities and our proximity to Windrock were extremely beneficial to our hotel industry in the city of Oak Ridge. Luckily, none of our hotels had to completely close their doors during the height of the pandemic like in other areas of the country,” she stated. “We have not seen any major changes in tourism yet, due to gas prices. Prices in the Southeast have not gotten as high as in other parts of the country, and that

is a positive for tourism in Tennessee overall.”

Labor shortage

A recent labor shortage has sent companies competing for workers, including those in service positions, but Wells is optimistic.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.