MARYVILLE, Tenn. – With stay-at-home restrictions lifted and businesses reopening, it is a prime time for organizations to hold planning meetings, brainstorm sessions, and retreats to reboot their strategies.
However, with COVID-19 not yet eradicated and with the safety of attendees in mind, it is also imperative to choose the right destination that provides peace-of-mind. In efforts to comply with health guidelines and provide safe, affordable travel options, the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority (SMTDA) recently launched a new campaign called #CloserToHome.
Throughout the multimedia campaign, SMTDA encourages business leaders and meeting planners to come “closer to home,” and asks them to consider Blount County, located in the Great Smoky Mountains, as an ideal meeting destination while remaining within driving distance.
Blount County offers ample space to socially distance without the concern of crowds, yet it is within a day’s drive for 60 percent of the U.S. population and is less than a four-hour drive from cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, Nashville, Greenville, Lexington, and Louisville.
The area also has a small, regional airport, which makes it a safer option than crowded airports within large, metropolitan cities. A 150-foot walkway connects the airport to the Hilton Knoxville Airport Conference Center, which eliminates the need for an Uber, cab, or shuttle.
Despite the remote nature of Blount County, there is still plenty for meeting attendees to do. The recently-reopened Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers activities to enjoy like hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, or horseback riding.
The county also boasts gourmet, award-winning restaurants, a whiskey trail, craft breweries, wineries, and activities like golf and shopping.
Accommodations in Blount County offer suitable opportunities for social distancing and isolation. Many of the area hotels and resorts have virtual check-in, to-go meals from their restaurants and follow the highest standards and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
“Meeting planners enjoy this area because attendees can be productive but it also allows them to relax and feel rejuvenated—all while remaining closer to home,” said Blount Partnership director of tourism Kim Mitchell. “There are more than 20 different hotel and meeting venue options that can accommodate meetings of nearly any size and preference. Planners can choose from rustic mountain meetings or a high-end luxury meeting. And with the abundance of activities, everyone is certain to find something they enjoy.”
For more information and for a downloadable meeting planner guide visit www.smokymountainmeetings.org.