SEVIER COUNTY - A total of 3.7 million people visited the city of Pigeon Forge and stayed overnight in 2016, setting a tourism record for the city.
Tourism was just one of the topics discussed Thursday during Pigeon Forge's State of the City address.
Mayor David Wear told a room full of business owners overall revenue in the city rose 10 percent over the last year totaling more than $1.2 billion.
Wear said revenue and tourism go hand-in-hand, and he was happy to announce both have increased over previous years.
“They know us and they’ve been here year-after-year and they feel for us, I think, right after the fire, and I think in the humanitarian outpour," Wear said regarding the loyalty of Pigeon Forge visitors.
He wants those same visitors, all 3.7 million of them, to know that it's "business as usual."
"We didn’t have any commercial loss and we are open for business and ready to come back," he added.
Along with the Wear's remarks, Fire Chief Tony Watson also addressed the crowd and spoke specifically about the fire department's accomplishments and response the night of the devastating Chimney Tops 2 Fire.
"We knew it was going to come and knew it was going to come hard," Chief Watson said. “I hope we never ever have to go through it again but I’ll tell you, we will have a fire. I hope it’s never like what it is that we faced that night, but it could be."
Wear believes the city is prepared if a similar disaster were to strike. He said their city is strong, not only financially, but mentally.
"Since the fire, I think we will are going to be strongest this spring break," Wear said.
Business owners like David Fee with Fee Hedrick Family Entertainment, base it on the hearts of the people who live in the community.
"The entire community came together like I’ve never seen in my lifetime," Fee said about the days and months following the fires.
Fee said the more people who visit, the more they’ll be able to give back.
“We hope to have a record breaking season this year so that we can really help the people who have been affected as much as possible," he said.
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