TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) As most attractions across Tennessee have gotten the green-light to reopen in time for Memorial Day, it is a welcomed sight for many who have lost revenue amid the pandemic.
As this year is not your typical Memorial Day holiday, the coronavirus has impacted travel and the economy. But locally, outdoor attractions expect a good turnout with less people going out of town.
For Watauga Kayak in Elizabethton, Tenn. getting out on the river is the perfect way to take advantage of the holiday.
“This is a very safe activity for the current crisis, it really does not affect our activity on the water that much,” says John Wade, a rafting guide at Watauga Kayak.
Still, they continue to take the pandemic seriously and keep multiple groups separated, so groups are only rafting with the people they come with.
“We have been trying to take extra precautions with extra equipment in place like masks for anybody who is worried about that, hand sanitizer,” says Wade.
Across town at Fish Springs Marina on Watauga Lake, business is thriving.
”We are seeing a lot more people here at the lake. Our slips are full now, which usually doesn’t happen until the Fourth of July weekend. So, a month and a half early we are at full capacity,” says Thomas White, owner.
White says a lot of people are out on the water because it is one of the easiest ways to socially distance outside. He also says coming out of the pandemic, hitting the lake will be easier on your pocketbook:
“Gas prices are low, you can run around the lake a lot less expensively than you did last year.”
For those looking to take a day trip just outside of the Tri-Cities, Pigeon Forge is open for business.
“Most of our attractions are now open except the large ones and they’ll be reopening as quickly as they possibly can,” says Leon Downey, director of tourism for Pigeon Forge.
They are updating their website to reflect which attractions are open, are which remain closed.
For the tourism town, business has been steadily rolling in for the long holiday weekend.
“Memorial Day is often considered the start of the summer travel season . People have a pent up demand, they want to get out and start their holiday,” says Downey.
But, it is not without safety precautions. Businesses will help control crowds, encourage social distancing, and they are asking visitors to wear a mask.
“We gave out I think 2,000 face masks to our businesses for their employees and their guests,” says Downey.
Whether your family is making a day trip or taking a stay-cation this holiday, our local attractions say the pandemic has a silver lining, as more people are in town.
“People are staying closer to home, they can get on the lake and social distance,” says White.
At Watauga Kayak, Wade agrees:
“A lot of people are worried about traveling, and going far away from home, trying to stay within guidelines and be safe. This is right in your own backyard. You don’t realize how beautiful it is here till you get out on the water and experience it for yourself.”
Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.