Our region has opportunity to draw in adventure tourists

Johnson City Press • Feb 24, 2014 at 9:08 AM

Tennessee officials are now accepting applications from local communities wishing to be certified as an adventure tourism district. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Department of Revenue says the designation allows specific tourism-related businesses within an adventure tourism district to qualify for a jobs tax credit.The Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011 defines adventure tourism as activities involving horse and motorized trail riding, white water rafting and kayaking, rappelling, road and mountain biking, rock climbing, spelunking, shooting sports and canoeing.To qualify for adventure tourism certification, local governments must submit their applications to the state Department of Economic and Community Development by April 15. We believe several communities in Northeast Tennessee would greatly benefit from this designation, including the towns of Mountain City and Erwin.Adventure tourism and ecotourism are growing components of the travel and recreation industry, and there are few places in the world that offer all the natural amenities found right here in Northeast Tennessee. We have the Appalachian Trail, trophy trout streams, pristine lakes and rivers and magnificent mountain views — all unspoiled by overpopulation, development and pollution. Adventure tourism would allow us to keep it that way by inviting others to come for a friendly visit. Tennessee officials outdoor recreation generates $8.2 billion annually in direct consumer spending in this state, not to mention providing 83,000 jobs.One recipe for success in adventure tourism is for communities to team up with state and federal agencies and involve local residents and businesses in the development of outdoor parks and recreational activities. This is a strategy that has been employed in Mountain City, where officials are developing the Doe Mountain Recreation Area.The state General Assembly has created the 15-member Doe Mountain Recreation Authority to oversee the 8,600-acre wooded mountain park. Cooperation between state and local officials to promote activities at the new park, which will include all-terrain vehicle riding, will help Mountain City and the entire Upstate become a desirable destination for adventure tourists.

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