Tourism in the United States is one of the largest industries in the world (second to France). Heritage/Cultural tourism is one the largest growing sectors of niche tourism today and is a valuable economic tool for the field of historic preservation. Cultural routes and heritage trails serve as interpretive elements of cultural tourism that link significant places, people, and events together providing an educational and recreational experience for users. Music tourism has had limited study until recent years and heritage music trails are products of this niche of cultural tourism. Music tourism and these heritage trails offer a different tourism experience; “whether linked to visits of places of performance, places of music composition, places enshrined in lyrics, places of births and deaths, or museums have grown tremendously in the last decades of the twentieth century. It has shaped distinct patterns of recreation and tourism, transformed some places, become an a source of income generation, and reshaped memories and identities of music and musicians” (Gibson and Connell 2005)
The state of Georgia has its own impressive roster of famous natives: Bessie Smith, The Allman Brothers, Ottis Redding, R.E.M., B52s and James Brown just to name a few, as well as significant sites connected to music history like Capricorn Records, The Big House in Macon, and the 40 Watt in Athens.
The purpose of this thesis is to explore the foundations of cultural tourism and the economic impacts of cultural tourism and music tourism, using The Crooked Road Trail (Virginia) and the Mississippi Blues Trail, as case studies. I will research Georgia’s music history, and create a proposal for a Georgia heritage music trail, linking physical sites and musicians in order to interpret our unique music history and resources. If implemented, this heritage trail would create a unique experience, both educational and recreational, for a variety of tourists and Georgia residents, as well as economic benefits for the state and local economies.
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