Thesis Title

The Evolution of Heritage Tourism Development in Two Small, Central Mid-Western Towns

Date of Graduation

Fall 2001

Degree

Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences

Department

Geography, Geology and Planning

Committee Chair

Dimitri Ioannides

Subject Categories

Earth Sciences

Abstract

Heritage tourism is more than just a special interest form of tourism. It can also serve as an economic development tool. Many small towns in the Central Midwest are struggling economically due to various factors such as changes in farming, manufacturing shut-downs, and depletion of natural resources. These small towns often do not have many economic opportunities to choose from and heritage tourism could be very beneficial. Some of the benefits resulting from heritage tourism include increased revenues and employment, strengthened sense of community prode, and improved physicial appearance and infrastructure of the community. This thesis seeks to determine the forces that help shape heritage tourism development in small towns in the Central Midwest. It is important to understand these forces and how and when they occur since they constitute the foundation and history of the tourism industry in "small town' USA. Materials and information for this study were gathered from literature, personal interviews, and personal observations. The hypothesis states that Butler's Resort Cycle Model is effective in gauging the development of heritage tourism within the two selected towns of this study. Also by using this model and breaking the towns' development into various stages, the key forces at each stage could be extrapolated. This study proved that Butler's Model was effective when applied to heritage tourism development. However, a major finding showed that the tourism industry in each town became a dominant part of the economy before the stage suggested by the model. This finding could be a topic for future research to determine if it is characteristic of all small towns with heritage tourism or not. Other suggestions for future research involve adding more small towns to the study or analyzing heritage tourism development in other regions.

Copyright

© Jennifer Connell

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