Blount Tourism
Response to Nat’l Parks Shutdown


Project description

Blount Partnership’s Smoky Mountains Tourism Development Authority engaged MBWC to assist in an outreach campaign during the government shutdown of 2013.

The Blount Partnership is the sole economic development agency for the Blount County, Tenn., area, inclusive of the Chamber of Commerce and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority (SMTDA). On October 1, 2013 – at the critical onset of the fall foliage visitor season for Townsend and the Park – the federal government undertook a 15-day shutdown, and with it, the U.S. Department of the Interior and National Parks Service closed the gates for national parks across the country (of which, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited nationwide).

In Blount County, the Townsend and overall tourism / hospitality economic base faced a severe threat of impacted revenues brought about by the shutdown, and no one knew at the time how long it would last. The threat of a protracted closure of weeks or – worst-case scenario – through the full fall-visitor season, could spell catastrophe for the Visitor’s Bureau’s some 75 hospitality businesses, particularly the majority that are “mom-and-pop” enterprises, with very limited margins, extremely dependent on fall-season revenues.

Over the course of only 15 days, MBWC garnered significant coverage for the SMTDA, including national pieces on NBC and, USA Today and,, Fox News, with a total of 109 story mentions and features and total impressions of just over 164 million. The client later reported that the promotional efforts helped mitigate overall economic impact with fewer early- to mid-October cancellations than originally feared.

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