Can holiday tourism save an otherwise dismal year? Local business owners weigh in

Can holiday tourism save an otherwise dismal year? Local business owners weigh in

At the Engadine Inn and Cabins in Candler, they're banking on the Santas — 1,200 of them, to be exact. "The tree we put up is really big — it has about 3,000 lights and 1,200 ornaments, all Santa Claus ornaments," said Rick Bell, who owns and operates the inn with his partner, Tom Watson. "Some of them are wood, some plastic, some made out of natural things. It takes four or five nights just to get the lights right...and a half-gallon of scotch." Bell was joking about the scotch, probably, but he's serious about the tree being just right, because it's magical in another way: it brings in a lot of visitors every year. And in this pandemic-dominated year of 2020, businesses like the Engadine Inn need all the tourists they can get. A near total shutdown in the spring to stem the spread of COVID-19 crippled the hospitality …
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