Reanimating the Graveyard : Heritage Tourism Development of North Carolina Shipwrecks

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Valerie J. Grussing (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:

Abstract: The shipwrecks of the Graveyard of the Atlantic are a prime subject for heritage tourism development in North Carolina. Education about these irreplaceable cultural resources, and effective interpretation of them, is critical for their protection and preservation. Development of interpretive means for shipwrecks would foster heritage tourism, which would serve to educate the public about archaeological resources, and promote local economies. However, these benefits must be balanced with sustainable use and protection of the resources.  This study of heritage tourism development for North Carolina shipwrecks consists of a comparative evaluation of existing programs for shipwreck interpretation and protection. Evaluation is based on quantitative data, the qualitative measures of community involvement, effective interpretation, and active management, as well as each program's tradeoffs and accomplishment of its stated goals. The outcomes are also assessed for their feasibility in North Carolina, based on its shipwrecks, physical environmental conditions, political climate and initiative, and other relevant factors. The ultimate product is a series of recommendations for North Carolina of alternatives that may be most effective and feasible.  The selected programs represent a wide range of interpretive methods, and target diverse audiences. Four North Carolina programs are evaluated, all of which are recommended for continuation and expansion. Six programs from outside North Carolina are also evaluated, four of which are recommended for creation in North Carolina. Analysis of the policy implications of each program provides insight into how the recommendations may be approached to maximize their chances of successful implementation.  The further development of heritage tourism programs along the North Carolina coast will have a significant positive impact on local communities and on the maritime heritage of the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The growth and expansion of programs designed to protect, preserve, and interpret shipwrecks would increase public stewardship of these irreplaceable cultural resources, and stimulate local economies via job creation and tourism.  

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009

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