Bring More Money To Southern Utah With Over-The-Top Attractions
Zion National Park was the most visited in Utah with 4.5 million tourists traveling through Southern Utah and spending dollars along the way. They figure each person averages $672 spent in the local economy. That’s a total of over $3 Billion if I did the math right.
That’s great and I know that funnels down to me, but if you own a gas station, restaurant or motel, you are seeing that tourist money in a more direct way. There are other ways to get in on that flow and a place called Pigeon Forge Tennessee shows us how it’s done.
Pigeon Forge sits outside Great Smoky Mountain National Park, not at the entrance, but a couple miles back. Like Virgin is from Springdale. This place is a tourist trap’s dream. There is one long road packed with go-cart tracks, Ferris wheels, zip lines, even a restaurant and museum built like the Titanic.
It’s stupid to have a ship in the mountains of Tennessee, like putting the London Bridge in Arizona, oh wait. But Pigeon Forge is awesome. If you get a chance to visit, do it. It’s the home of Dollywood and it is a tribute to over-the-top attempts at tourist dollars. I think it is a model for what we could do in Southern Utah.
I ate at a restaurant decorated to look like Mark Twain's Huck Finn where they pulled catfish fresh from the river running behind the place. They fried it up in front of us. Maybe we could do something like that in Hurricane next to Grandpa’s pond or on the Virgin River. Probably have to fry up crawfish as the blue finned minnow is endangered.
We just have to think bigger. Ziplines from bluff to bluff, motorized pioneer wagon races, ride a tame buffalo, no idea is too big or to far out there. I’m not saying we recreate all of Pigeon Forge, maybe just some of it. The place gets 9 million visitors annually after all.