FALL COLOR MEANS BILLIONS (WITH A "B") TO THE ECONOMY OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

FALL COLOR EXPECTED TO BE AVERAGE OR BETTE

NOT REALLY IMPACTED MUCH BY HURRICANE IRMA

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As the leaves change color in western North Carolina, green is the big color for most businesses.

October is one of the biggest months for businesses as tourists flock to the area to view the reds, oranges and yellows of the fall.

Western Carolina University economist Steve Morse told the Asheville Citizen-Times that October is like Black Friday in mountains of western North Carolina.

A recent economic impact study from Tourism Economics found that Buncombe County attracted nearly 11 million visitors last year. Those visitors spent nearly $2 billion.

Marla Tambellini with the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau said the fall foliage season is estimated to be responsible for about 12 percent of hotel occupancy for the year. She said demand is running ahead of last year's pace.

Photosynbthesis is the big factor that determines fall leaf colorf, according to a biology professor at Western Carolina University...and Professor Beverly Collins says its been a very good year for chlorophyll and photosynthesis.

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Western North Carolina typically has one of the longest fall color seasons in the nation, due largely to the changes in elevations throughout the region...with fall color starting early (in earl;y Septembedr at some of the highest elevations) and last into late October or even early November at the lowest elevations.

Tourism from the fall color season is historically critical to the economy of Henderson County.