Camping Recovers in Western North Carolina
Campground owners in the western tip of North Carolina report business is recovering after a slow start due to the initial shock of rising gas prices, according to the Cherokee Scout, Murphy, N.C.
“This was the slowest Memorial Day that we’ve seen in 24 years, but this was the best Fourth of July that we’ve seen in those years,” said Kathie Wojdylo of Brookside Campground in Topton.
She said visitors have just accepted the rising gas prices and are vacationing anyhow. Wojdylo also reported seeing more visitors from further away, due to the rising price of airline tickets.
Jerry Panchyshyn of Creekside RV Park in Murphy reported a slow start to the tourist season as well. With gas prices starting to drop, business is picking up, he said.
“It’s been an odd season, it’s too early to tell how things will go,” he said.
Dee Whitting, owner of Peace Valley Campground, a Good Sam Park in Murphy, also reported a rise in business. She added that many of her patrons were traveling shorter distances but staying longer. Whitting attributes the rise in business to gas prices keeping people close to home and rally groups visiting the area.
Not all tourism venues in the county are prospering. With the recent closing of some of the Tellico Off-Road Vehicle trails, Danny Slucher, owner of Crawford’s Campground and Cabin Rentals, said business is down roughly 60%.
The Fourth of July holiday saw only five of their 50 camp spots full. Slucher has lost at least $75,000 this year alone. The loss has caused him to aim at motorcyclists instead of ATV drivers.
Overall, more than 5,400 people have visited the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce this year, 200 more than the same time last year.
With the busiest months of the year now past, tourism should thrive through October, according to a report from the chamber. The majority of tourists visiting the area are from Florida. Although, 32 of those visitors reported being from another country, some come from as far away as Australia.