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HGTV show dramatically increases Wetumpka’s tourism

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) - Fresh numbers are out on Wetumpka’s tourism and, so far, the data shows a significant jump in the number of tourists visiting since HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover” show aired this summer.

Smiles abound these days from the city that bills itself as the ‘City of Natural Beauty.’ They’re talking about the skyrocketing rise in the number of tourists since Ben and Erin Napier took over the downtown earlier in the year.

“Wetumpka, Alabama,” Ben and Erin Napier announced on the TODAY Show on NBC. It set off a torrent of excitement and change that’s been witnessed by millions of the couple’s fans.

Wetumpka saw about 1,200 visitors per week before the Napiers came to town. Now?

“5,000 people a week, and if you do the quick math that’s a 318% increase,” said Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shellie Whitfield.

Add it up and it’s people like Bryan and Lana Corley from Houston, Texas, who are part of the trend. The Corleys saw the episodes and felt the need to pay a visit. They traveled more than 600 miles to see the city.

“Well, we wanted to see the creativity they’ve been doing here and restoring the old town,” said the Corleys.

You’ll also find a local guest book in the Market Shoppes filled with signatures of folks from far away places on the map.

“What we didn’t expect is to have people from Costa Rica,” said Whitfield.

There is little doubt the “Home Town Takeover” show built the bridge to something better for Wetumpka. Now the question is how do local leaders keep that momentum going?

“There’s lots of conversation going on, lots of planning being done,” Whitfield said.

The production team is back in town this week doing a recap on how the series affected the city. The return visit will produce only one show, but it’s another show for the world to see.

“We had this huge tidal wave,” Whitfield explained. “It was almost a little bit overwhelming.”

Wetumpka has captured lightning in a bottle, the perfect storm of everything coming together; exposure beyond measure; renovations galore, and it’s turning the corner to something new and different.

And more people are coming. Whitfield says six bus loads of visitors are scheduled to visit the city during the months of September and October.

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