TAZEWELL COUNTY (News Release)- Tazewell County officials released 2017 tourism numbers at their Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. Tourism Director David Woodard said “Almost all tourism sectors are up this year. It has been a great year.”
The report, available at the Tazewell County Visitors Center, highlights the different projects across the tourism industry in the county, marketing efforts by the tourism department, and the economic development portion of the industry.
Historic Crab Orchard Museum saw a 4% increase in attendance – including a 60% increase in the Pisgah Pumpkin Patch. New business in Burkes Garden, including a new store / restaurant and bicycle rentals, were also named in the document. A recurring theme was the business growth in and around the town of Tazewell. “The town is growing, and that is a good thing” said Town Manager Todd Day. “A lot of the growth you see in Tazewell is due to the effort and hard work of the community. Tazewell had a head start on adventure tourism here with the Back of the Dragon,” said Woodard.
The Back of the Dragon saw a 22% increase in the number of motorcycles crossing the road in one year, said Woodard, “We arrive at these numbers by road counts that are done both by VDOT and by our own devices; we average those numbers out, discard a percentage based on poor weather, and then multiply by the number of riding weeks we had. It’s a complicated process, but we are confident it gives us an accurate number.” A 22% increase means that over 60,000 motorcycles came into Tazewell via route 16 in 2017.
The OP ATV Trail and the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine both saw growth. The permit sales on the OP Trail were up 352% according to Spearhead Trails and attendance at the Exhibition Mine was up 25% over the previous season. The mine was featured on Fishers ATV World over the summer and saw visits from the Smithsonian to take castings and information for a future exhibit on natural history. Officials also noted that the OP and the Exhibition Mine will be featured on an episode of Dirt Trax TV next week.
The report concluded with economic development numbers for the tourism industry in Tazewell County. “Our office surveys all of the tourism related businesses in the county to inquire on their sales, number of employees, and what kind of assistance they need from the county,” said Woodard.
Tazewell County opened 13 new businesses, expanded 3 more, created 106 new jobs and saw $2.935 million in private business investment for the year 2017. These businesses were dispersed across the food, retail, and asset industries, with the southern district of Tazewell County seeing the most increases (7).
“It has been a banner year in tourism for us. The entire region is up in visitation, I like to think we may hold an edge in Tazewell County,” said Woodard.