Room tax money could bring big changes to Nantahala
By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer
The rugged mountain terrain of Macon County’s Nantahala community is the only home Jim and Faye Woods know. The couple are natives of the remote area that borders Swain and Cherokee counties.
Nantahala, however, may be on the verge of being discovered. The isolated outdoor haven is home to a growing number of rental places and whitewater rafting business, and it is popular for fishing and boating.
In recent years the community has become a second-home destination like Highlands and Cashiers in Jackson County.
A recent decision by Macon County officials to give the community money to promote tourism will likely lead to more visitors. Soon all the occupancy tax money — a tax on all overnight hotel, inn and resort stays — generated by the community will be spent promoting Nantahala. That could speed the pace of change in a community that has changed very little over the past few decades.
Some call this area the last frontier because of its landscape. The Nantahala River flows through the community creating great rapids for paddlers to surf and prime fishing holes for fishermen. Nantahala Lake attracts watersport enthusiasts for a weekend of jet skiing or relaxing on a houseboat.
Locals like the Woods say the mountain community is quickly changing.
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