Betting on Tourism? Romanticization of Tourism as a Rural Economic Development Strategy

Ryan Paul Russell

Abstract


Rural communities in the United States (US) have experienced significant economic impacts since the 1960s. Primarily, this has been due to the consequences of globalization and its effects on undiversified economies that are dependent on extractive industries. This has resulted in rural poverty rates that vastly outpace their urban counterparts. In the 1980s, tourism was identified as a form of rural economic development that utilized various amenities inherent to rural communities. However, while rural tourism development has occurred on an impressive scale throughout the US, rural poverty rates remain significant. This implies that tourism itself is not a cure-all in promoting rural economic development. Tourism possesses substantial negative impacts including the corruption of a community’s authentic culture which degrades its quality of life. Paradoxically, tourism corrupts a community’s culture by using economic incentives that are mostly hypothetical and seldom fully realized. Therefore, rural communities remain vulnerable and require holistic economic development that maintains their quality of life. This paper evaluates the impact of tourism on the rural community of Cripple Creek, CO, a mining-turned casino town. It reaffirms the implication that tourism by itself is unlikely to solve the US rural economic crisis.

Keywords


rural; tourism; economic; development; Cripple Creek, CO; Colorado Limited Gaming Act of 1991

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