Pack(ed) Place: Cultural Heritage Tourism in Buncombe County, NC Past, Present, and Future

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Katherine Calhoun Cutshall (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site:
Daniel Pierce

Abstract: Abstract: Since before the Civil War, tourism of all kinds, including heritage tourism, has been a primary driver of the economy of western North Carolina, especially in Asheville, the seat of Buncombe County, and the region’s urban center. By the end of WWII, heritage tourism as we know it today, fueled by programs like the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and Southern Highlands Craft Guild, centered authentic mountain life and culture for throngs of seasonal tourists while simultaneously benefiting local performers and craftspeople. After an economic decline in the mid-20th century, Asheville embraced historic preservation and numerous community museums and organizations burst on the scene. These institutions saw so much support and success that by the early 2000s it seemed likely that Buncombe County would host a large, state-run history museum. However, After the latest major economic recession, Asheville turned its gaze away from preservation and heritage tourism toward hospitality industry development. Focus on hotels, and general neglect for the state of heritage tourism infrastructure and the robusticity of heritage tourism programs have, over the past nearly two decades, been detrimental to the participation of working-class residents in heritage tourism programs. This paper argues that the welfare of heritage tourism and preservation institutions and organizations is more impactful to Buncombe County’s working class and residential communities and that a single, large, centralized history museum would be of benefit for both tourists and residents, economically and in less quantifiable ways.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Cultural Heritage Tourism, Tourism, WNC, Buncombe County, Heritage, Culture, Appalachia, Southern Appalachia, economics, tourists, hotel, infrastructure, recession, preservation, seasonal tourism, crafts

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