We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Boston...
Level Contributor
5,524 posts
47 reviews
Save Topic
Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Chattanooga has developed enormously over the past two decades, from a town with only a few attractions and a dead downtown area to a revitalized city with a much more attractive river front. However, the question remains, just how far has Chattanooga progressed in the eyes of locals and out-of-town visitors?

Is it an overnight stop, a weekend visit, a nice place to spend a few days, or a full fledged vacation destination?

What are Chattanooga's strengths and weaknesses? Does Chattanooga offer a standard experience or does a visitors' impression depend greatly on what they happen to visit?

What elements need to be developed to make Chattanooga a higher-profile destination?

Discuss! (All opinions and stories very welcome. Also, it will probably be helpful to discussion for each poster to relate how familiar he or she is with the city and what sites they have visited.)

1. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post has been removed at the author's request. The author may post again if desired.

Posts on the TripAdvisor forums may be edited for a short period of time. Once the edit period has expired, authors may update their posts by removing and reposting them.

To read more about editing your posts, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/how_to_edit_your_posts

Removed on: 18 September 2009, 03:44
Boston...
Level Contributor
5,524 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Oh, it'd also probably be good to note when you last visited Chattanooga since a visit in 1999 or even 2004 would be different than a visit today.

Tullahoma, Tennessee
Level Contributor
345 posts
143 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Becaue I live less than two hours away I have always thought of Chattanooga as a "long weekend" destination. I have enjoyed many trips to the aquarium, Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga & Missionary Ridge, the art galleries and museums, and literary festivals in Chattanooga.

I would certainly recommend Chattanooga as a stop of a few days to anyone planning a vacation in the area. There is much to do in and around Chattanooga. While once a somewhat grimy industrial town, today Chattanooga is a clean, welcoming town with a varied economic base and an interesting tourist appeal.

Athens, Alabama
Level Contributor
3,908 posts
403 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Chattanooga is a great stop-over for a day or two but it is not truely a vacation destination for travelers outside the region. We've visited Chattanooga many times over the years and have done the things there that appeal to us. We visit again as new things that interest us are added. Since we live less than 2 hours away we rarely stay overnight though.

I have found that the number of topics on Trip Advisor forums is a good indicator of the popularity of a city/destination for travelers outside the region. Those travelers are the ones much more likely to ask questions as they are not at all familiar with the location. Here are some facts about the number of forum topics for destinations in TN:

Gatlinburg 8138 posts

Pigeon Forge 3674 posts

Nashville 2201 posts

Memphis 1989 posts

Great Smoky Mtns NP 844 posts

Chattanooga 683 posts

Knoxville 233 posts

Sevierville posts 215

TN state total 18700 posts

Based on those numbers Chattanooga would be 3.6% of the travel interest for the state. The Smoky's area (PF, Gatlinburg, National Park, Sevierville) accounts for 17061 posts or 91% of the travel interest for the state. I find it interesting that Knoxville is well below Chattanooga with only 233 posts or 1.3%.

Boston...
Level Contributor
5,524 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

I haven't gathered my thoughts on these questions yet, but thought I'd offer (what is in my opinion) a correction.

I don't think forum post numbers are at all a good measure of the size of the tourism industry; numbers can also be impacted by the nature of the destination and how strong of a community of people are on that forum. Better to look at the numbers:

Gatlinburg: 9 million visitors annually (ref below).

Chattanooga: 8 million visitors annually (ref below).

Also, you can't tell what percentage of the Gatlinburg visitors are just basing themselves in the town and spending all or most all of their time in the national park. (I'd guess at least a million.) If a visitor's in Chattanooga, they're there because of Chattanooga. A better way to guesstimate tourism is by dollars, but I could only find Chattanooga's figure ($690 million).

Said another way, the total number of tourists in Tennessee annually is thirty-nine million. Of that, Gatlinburg takes about a quarter. The Gatlinburg Forum composes almost half of the post count for Tennessee.

Athens, Alabama
Level Contributor
3,908 posts
403 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Tourism dollars per county according to UTK 2006 economic fact sheets:

Sevier county- 1.4 billion

Hamilton county- 688 million

Knox county- 739 million

Davidson county- 3.8 billion

Shelby county- 2.8 billion

Dollar wise my use of post topics appears to be inaccurate with Nashville and Shelby county generating much more money than Sevier county. However, those are much larger towns with big conventions, large events and major airports. They also have major interstate traffic as does Chattanooga. The Smokies themselves can generate little revenue as there are few things within the park to spend money on. There is also little traffic from those that are just passing thru the area headed elsewhere. The Smokies would be a destination location. Based on tourism spending, Chattanooga falls below what I gave it credit for.

http://web.utk.edu/~tourism/research_publications.shtml

Athens, Alabama
Level Contributor
3,908 posts
403 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

This got me curious about Huntsville (Madison County), AL tourism and the state of AL in general and how it might compare. From the Alabama Governors office:

The top five counties in Alabama with the largest travel-related expenditures are:

Baldwin County (Gulf Shores area) $2.3 billion

Jefferson County (B'ham) $1.5 billion

Madison County (Huntsville) $991 million

Mobile County (Mobile) $944 million

Montgomery County (state capital) $558 million. These counties were also the most visited in the state in 2008 and account for 63 percent of the total number of visitors.

alabama.travel/media-room/news/Tourism_Econo…

Boston...
Level Contributor
5,524 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Thanks for those numbers! That's just about what I expected; Sevier County may only get a few more million visitors a year (than Chattanooga) but those people are spending time, not just seeing some sights while passing through. So the industry in Chattanooga looks to be about half of Seviers, which is roundbouts what I might have guessed. (Certainly much more than 1.3% of the total tourism of the state (based on your numbers it's about 7.5%), which was my point in responding to your earlier post.)

I think one of the premises of this topic is that Chattanooga isn't a major destination yet, but it is developing. The question is whether it's a "hidden jewel" of sorts waiting to be discovered, or a rather boring place, or a place with good and bad aspects which, if improved, could make it a higher-profile destination.

So, with that as a segway, I'll post my thoughts. For regionals Chattanooga is of course more of a long weekend thing, but I think for people coming in from further away, Chattanooga definitely falls into the third category (a nice place to spend a few days). I probably don't think Chattanooga is yet a vacation destination.

Strengths: Highly developed riverfront area, greenways, very little tourist gluck, scenic location on edge of Cumberland Plateau, incredibly beautiful natural areas close to city, Trail of Tears and Civil War history, unique, historic, turn-on-your-brain attractions.

Weaknesses: sprawl, various parts of city don't come together into cohesive identity, Lookout Mountain not connected to downtown by public transport, history way underutilized, not a whole lot of "filler" (small fun things discovered randomly), lack of unique, middle-priced hotels, lack of resort/lodge-type accommodations.

Chattanooga needs to bring all of its strengths together, offering transport to Chickamauga and natural areas. There needs to be focus not only on the aquarium, Ruby Falls, the Incline, and Rock City, but all the other things the city offers. More areas like Frazier and Bluff View (and more and more now Main Street) would be great.

Chattanooga...
Level Contributor
2,102 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

no way, its just a hub or weekend stop.

Orlando
Level Contributor
463 posts
143 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Is Chattanooga a vacation destination?

Let me start by saying...I love Chattanooga. If my husband would say go for it...I'd actually move there.

That being said..IF you rely on the tourist attractions alone.....I don't think it a place for a full fledged vacation.

A good 4 day weekend maybe but not a full week.

It's strenghts are:

The location..nice central location in a beautiful area of Tenn. Easy access from many in the country.

The few attactions that are there are very good.

Cons...there just aren't alot of the attractions.

We did the big three in one day..Ruby Falls, Incline Railroad and Rock City. We even went down to the Riverfront after that.

Now to be fair on my last statement, we had no small children with us and two of us were from a major tourist desination so weren't really into the theme park thing. All in all, Rock City is ok.

Transportation between the Riverfront and the Big Three would probably help alot.

We actually enjoyed the Farmer's Market and Riverfront area the best. I'd like to see those promoted more.