Smoky Mountains National Park’s Record Visitation Proves It Is “One Of America’s Greatest Treasures”

Friday, January 13, 2017

Senator Lamar Alexander on Friday praised employees and volunteers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for their work in welcoming a record 11,312,785 visitors to the park in 2016, the U.S. National Park Service Centennial.

“Documentarian Ken Burns said the national parks are ‘America’s best idea,’ so the Great Smoky Mountains National Park must be ‘America’s very best idea’ because each year it attracts nearly twice the visitors of any other national park – and last year it broke its own record with more than 11 million visitors,” Senator Alexander said. “The park’s dedicated employees and nearly 2,250 volunteers – who donated over 100,000 hours of service – had a busy year and deserve a lot of credit.”

He said, “The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures – and it has a tremendous economic impact in East Tennessee. In 2015, visitors to the Park spent more than $874 million and supported nearly 14,000 jobs in surrounding communities.”

Senator Alexander said he hopes even more visitors will come to the park in 2017 which will help the area recover from the deadly wildfires that spread through Sevier County and Gatlinburg in November: “Having even more visitors come to the Smokies in 2017 will increase tourism revenue and support more jobs – which will help the area rebuild and recover.”

Senator Alexander marked the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service by hiking in the Smokies with Tennessee students and Superintendent Cassius Cash and honoring the service of park employees.

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