North Carolina mountain businesses say pump prices are holding back tourism – WSOC TV

BLOWING ROCK, NC — Summer tourism is getting off to a slow start, and some businesses in North Carolina’s mountains say gas prices could be to blame.

Businesses in Watauga and Avery counties said the season is starting slowly as rising prices for gas and other goods, driven by inflation, make people think twice about traveling in the High Country.

Normally a typical destination for tourists looking for waterfalls and hiking trails, this summer there may be fewer people heading to the mountains due to the cost of getting there.

“We’re about 20% off 2021 Verses,” said Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers.

Vendors don’t just run the town of Blowing Rock. It also has an attraction named after the town which usually sees thousands of visitors every year.

“(In) 2022 we saw a shift,” Sellers said. “I think it’s a combination of more people staying home or being driven by the cost of fuel.”

The mayor is not alone. Although there are still plenty of people in downtown Blowing Rock, businesses say they too are feeling the impact of inflation.

“People want to get away from it all, but shopping is less,” said Jean Walker of the Christmas in Blowing Rock gift shop.

Twenty miles away, at Christa’s General Store along Blue Ridge Parkway, a decent crowd could be seen heading to the weekend, but the owner says she’s heard of other regulars who don’t make the trip this summer.

“Several customers have called me and said ‘I would come but I can’t afford to spend more on petrol right now,'” Christa Poore told Channel 9.

Dave Faherty, a Channel 9 couple, said they hiked the more than 400 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway, but found ways to save money by staying at campgrounds along the way.

“Camp and try on the way,” said Bob McCurdy. “Gasoline prices, they’re high, but not high enough to keep us from living today and not waiting for tomorrow.”

Not everyone has seen a drop in tourism. Grandfather Mountain officials said they were busy but added it could be from people trying to shield themselves from the heat.

(WATCH BELOW: Is it worth driving further for cheaper gas prices?)

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