Mountain towns hope to see strong tourism season

BLOWING ROCK, N.C. — Visitors who travel to Blowing Rock to snow ski bring an economic impact to the town as they shop and eat during their retreat.

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Kris Tagliariai, of Tampa Bay, drove to Blowing Rock to show his daughter Mia snow for the first time.

"I love it here," Mia said.

All week, crowds of tourists have been flooding onto the streets of the mountain town.

"Oh, I'm spending some money, that's for sure, (at) restaurants, grocery stores, gas," Tagliariai said.

Blowing Rock town officials said they brought in $3 million from tourism last December and they think this year is going to be even better for business.

The total impact of the state's ski industry in the 2014-2015  season was nearly $200 million, according to the North Carolina Ski Association.

Last year wasn't great for snow and many ski areas had to close early. This year, they don't have any hard numbers yet but estimates are all as fresh as the snow.

"Number-wise we're looking at a really strong season,” said Drew Stanley, with N.C. Ski Association. “It's gotten off to a great start. December so far has been fantastic."

Many of the tourists in Blowing Rock come from Florida to get a taste of winter.

"We just left 85, 86 degrees and came up here to chill out a bit, I guess," said Billy Sanchez, of Wellington, Florida.

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