A local tour company wants to help support folks in the Smoky Mountains who were affected by a devastating forest fire last November.
Tours By Design of Hinckley, New York, is offering a six-day motorcoach tour to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to help bring business to that region. Company president, Carol Hamlin Buczek, CTIS, says it’s an easy way to help others. Buczek recently attended the annual Marketplace of the American Bus Association and says they heard a lot during the week-long convention about the damage suffered by their tourism colleagues, and saw many people wearing buttons with the slogan “We Are Mountain Tough”.
“During one of our gatherings a businessman from Pigeon Forge explained that the damage from these types of natural disasters is twofold; first there is the initial disaster or tragedy and business immediately grinds to a halt as not only the Park was damaged, but homes, businesses, and lives were lost” says Buczek. “But then the second wave hits when people stop visiting the area because they mistakenly believe there is nothing left to see, or the damage has made the area unattractive for tourists and businesses are no longer open”.
Buczek says while the fire was indeed tragic, the majority of the devastation was within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself and in the outskirts of Gatlinburg which borders the Park.
According to Buczek, tourism representatives at the ABA convention confirmed that the musical theaters, theme parks, restaurants, hotels and other attractions are open and ready for business. And she adds “the best thing we can do to help these people and the area to recover is to bring them business and keep the folks working and help their economy”.
Thus, the “Support the Smokies; Mountains and Music Tour” was created and Buczek hopes that people in central New York will jump on the bandwagon, or the bus in this case, and travel south to take their vacation this year. “We’ve partnered with a number of businesses in the Pigeon Forge region to create a six-day tour that will keep folks entertained while helping people in need” says Buczek. “It’s a fun and easy way to help others” she adds.
The tour runs from September 3-8, 2017 and will depart from Utica and Rome. Highlights of the trip include a guided bus tour through a portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, dinner shows, and time at Dollywood, the theme park created by entertainer Dolly Parton. Parton has been extremely generous in her support of families affected by the fire. She started the My People Fund and hosted a telethon to raise money for the victims.
This is not the first time that Tours By Design has stepped up to help victims of a natural disaster. In 2012 the company ran a tour to Atlantic City and loaded the motorcoach with supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Tour passengers and community members donated clothing, food and other items that were given to a women’s center and shelter in the area.
Buczek invites anyone interested in helping to Support the Smokies to call Tours By Design. The office is open 9am – 5pm weekdays and can be reached at 315-831-3052 or 1-877-454-0927. You can also visit the company website www.toursbydesign.org or the Facebook page for more details.
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