Chattanooga embraces the outdoors, and it's getting us noticed.
Not only does this uptick in notoriety propel Chattanooga to outdoor activity stardom, it's also the perfect opportunity to highlight local businesses that engage with our region's natural resources.
Among Chattanooga’s prized features is the Tennessee River, which glides effortlessly through our downtown and serves as the source of many outdoor adventure opportunities, such as our Riverpark.
The Tennessee River Gorge borders the river, stretching along 26 miles and encompassing more than 27,000 acres of protected land.
The River Gorge Explorer, a passenger boat affiliated with the Tennessee Aquarium, offers unique and educational guided tours of the Tennessee River Gorge. These two-hour tours, led by an Aquarium naturalist, ferry customers down the river to experience the Gorge.
We spoke briefly with the River Gorge Explorer's Captain Pete Hosemann about the passenger boat and Chattanooga’s outdoors industry.
Trend: How do the outdoor recreation opportunities in Chattanooga impact your business?
Captain Pete Hosemann: As a passenger boat captain, I see the tourism boom having an impact. Once viewed as a pass-through town, Chattanooga is now a destination.
Trend: Have you seen an upswing in people interested in outdoor recreation?
Hosemann: Yes. Due to marketing efforts by a number of diverse entities, the region and nation are taking notice of Chattanooga. And there is plenty here to market.
Trend: Do your guests tend to be visitors or locals?
Hosemann: The River Gorge Explorer garners a delightful mix. While the majority are visitors, a sizable portion are local. A surprising number of locals return again and again with guests saying the boat and the Gorge have become a must-see.
Trend: How is your business more successful in Chattanooga than it would be located elsewhere?
Hosemann: Our region is graced with many beautiful places, and we are fortunate to have the Tennessee River Gorge in our backyard. It is truly unique. The Gorge is the centerpiece of the many outdoor opportunities of our region.
Trend: What are some emerging trends related to your industry that you’re paying attention to?
Hosemann: The entire industry is geared toward safety and efficiency.That includes a greener operation.
Trend: What’s something significant coming up for the Explorer?
Hosemann: 2017 marks the tenth season for the River Gorge Explorer.
Trend: What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Hosemann: After 38 years in the passenger boat business, the best reward is seeing the light of understanding in a young person's eyes. The River Gorge Explorer's association with the Tennessee Aquarium allows me the privilege of enjoying that experience regularly.
Learn more about the River Gorge Explorer and book your trip here.