As promised yesterday, here are the statistics showing the number of tourists who have visited the Parkway each year for the last four*:
And here's corresponding analysis reported by Rex Bowman for the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Housing development, air pollution, the price of gas, global warming, Jen and Brad's breakup ... The reason for this decline is less important than the fact that our politicians have been telling us for years now that tourism was going to be our salvation, along with the fact that many of those same politicians have spent desperately needed tax revenue on this pipe-dream, building museums, cultural centers, trails, paths, even Indian villages, only now to be finding that their investments in tourism haven't brought on an increase in traffic at all. In fact the end-result is a precipitate decline.
Parkway traffic dips again
The three-year decrease in Blue Ridge visitation is first in road's 70-year history
By Rex Bowman, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
The number of visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2005 fell for the third consecutive year, the first time in the scenic road's 70-year history that visitation has dropped three years in a row.
National Park Service officials were at a loss to explain the three-year decline in the number of visitors to the popular parkway, though an agency spokesman speculated that higher gas prices might have kept motorists away last year. But the spokesman also wondered aloud if years of homebuilding near the two-lane blacktop, along with air pollution, have at last prompted people to forgo a trip along the parkway. (link)
If you're needing a reason though, you might consider this possibility:
" ... like to be entertained." I'm waiting for Congressman Boucher to jump on the casino bandwagon. Then we might all just as well close the doors and leave forever.
As for the decline of visitation over three years, [Wayne] Strickland [executive director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission], said it's possible some people have concluded development along the road has lessened the natural beauty of the drive. But, he said, the decline could more likely be attributed to the differing tastes of a new generation.
"The parkway may not appeal to the younger folks," Strickland said. "The baby boomers enjoyed it. The younger generation, they like to be entertained."
* Statistics provided by the National Park Service and the Times-Dispatch