GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Many people have turned to the outdoors for new adventures, which is why Tripadvisor has named Gatlinburg #1 in the country for Top Trending Destinations of the new year.
The Great Smoky Mountains are a big attraction. Last year more than 12 million people visited the park.
Pigeon Forge was named #4 on the Top Trending Destinations list, and Gatlinburg was also named #5 Top Trending Destination in the World.
From the Smoky Mountains, Sky Bridge, resorts, cabins, restaurants and entertainment, there's a lot to do in Gatlinburg. So, being named 2021's top trending destination comes as no surprise for many officials there.
"We're just that perfect combination of a destination," said Marci Claude with the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's an honor but it's an overwhelming honor to see that."
The city saw many new visitors in 2020, and throngs of people returned to Gatlinburg after already visiting it. Many crowded the streets as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, but Sevier County continues to emphasize its mask mandate.
"We still have a mask mandate, we're seeing stabilizing numbers to some degree. I believe the masks are working and we hope that trend continues," said Claude.
She stressed travelers must continue to do their part by traveling responsibly and safely.
"Take care of themselves and stay within their family groups and travel partners," she said.
Tripadvisor said 52% of travelers surveyed say they are more likely to take an outdoor trip than they were before the pandemic, so it makes sense for Gatlinburg to see such spikes.
"As a gateway community, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a lot of people have wanted to get outside this year and have sought the big escape and they came here," said Claude.
She also said that most travelers come by car and take advantage of enjoying a night's stay in a cabin.
Even though the shutdown came with uncertainty, she said that she is proud of how much the area has bounced back.