Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South

Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South

Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South

Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South

Synopsis

Anyone who has seen Rock City, wandered the grounds of Graceland, hiked in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or watched the mermaids swim at Weeki Wachee knows the southern United States offers visitors a rich variety of scenic, cultural, and leisure activities. Tourism has been, and is still, one of the most powerful economic forces in the modern South. It is a multibillion-dollar industry that creates jobs and generates revenue while drawing visitors from around the world to enjoy the region's natural and man-made attractions. This collection of 11 essays explores tourism as a defining force in southern history by focusing on particular influences and localities. Alecia Long examines sex as a fundamental component of tourism in New Orleans in the early 20th century, while Brooks Blevins describes how tourism served as a modernizing influence on the Arkansas Ozarks, even as the region promoted itself as a land of quaint, primitive hillbillies. Anne Whisnant chronicles the battle between North Carolina officials building the Blue Ridge Parkway and the owner of Little Switzerland, who fought for access and advertising along the scenic highway. One essay probes the racial politics behind the development of Hilton Head Island, while another looks at the growth of Florida's panhandle into a "redneck Riviera," catering principally to southerners, rather than northern tourists. Southern Journeys is a pioneering work in southern history. It introduces a new window through which to view the region's distinctiveness. Scholars and students of environmental history, business history, labor history, and social history will all benefit from a consideration of the place of tourism in southern life.

Excerpt

Richard D. Starnes

Anyone who has seen Rock City, driven down Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, wandered the grounds at Graceland, camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or watched the mermaids swim at Weeki Wachee realizes that the South offers visitors a rich variety of scenic, cultural, and leisure attractions. Yet, few would pause to consider tourism’s importance to the region itself. Tourism is one of the most powerful economic forces in the modern South. the South is an international tourist destination, drawing millions of visitors each year who come to enjoy the region’s natural and man-made attractions. It is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry, creating jobs, spawning new businesses, and generating much needed revenue. in some states, tourism is a greater economic force than agriculture or manufacturing and is one of the top three economic activities in every state of the former Confederacy. But tourism’s reach extends far beyond economics. It is a force that has wrought pronounced changes in the contours of southern society. Local images and culture have been manipulated and marketed to draw more visitors, regardless of the effects of this process on native residents. Developers transformed or even created whole communities designed to serve the needs of visitors. the South is one of the leading retirement and resort home locations in the country, a fact that has contributed to changing demographics within the region. Despite its economic power, tourism bypassed many with its benefits, forever changed the composition and culture of communities large and small, and created tensions between residents and visitors that manifested itself in many ways. a recent bumper sticker illustrated the animosity many residents feel about the intrusive nature of tourism when it asked, “If It’s Tourist Season, Why Can’t We Shoot ’Em?”

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