Scenic Beauty

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It is what the movie industry sought in western North Carolina in 1995, when it spent $93 million. Made-for-TV-movies and feature movies like The Last of the Mohicans, The Fugitive, Nell, many others have been filmed in the national forests. Film companies are seeking the scenic backdrop, the primordial forest, and the rich Appalachian images.

The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina serves as a scenic super-highway, bringing ten million visitors annually to the region. In 1997 visitors to Blue Ridge Parkway spent $1.3 billion in (NC and VA) counties contiguous to the Parkway. Those expenditures generated about $98 million in tax revenues annually and visitor spending directly supported more than 26,500 jobs. The Parkway is a narrow corridor of land that, in many places, barely accommodates the roadway itself. It is largely the national forests that surround the Parkway’s route that provide the sought-after scenic landscape.

Situated at either end of the Blue Ridge Parkway like the anchor stores of a giant scenic mall, are two of the nation’s premier scenic destinations – the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah National Parks. The role of the national forests is ever more important as these three National Park Service destinations become filled to capacity with visitors from all over the world. Local communities can be prepared to take advantage of the increase in national forest visitors.

In addition to the increase in traditional scenic tourism and recreation, a relatively new trend is taking place. Community leaders, developers, realtors, and others are finding that residents and businesses are choosing to live in places of high scenic beauty over income potential. Scenic beauty enhances a community’s sense of place by providing a strong connection to the outdoor environment

Fig22
Source: Paper presented at SAMAB conference, 1998, by Dr. Susan Kask and Peter Morton

 

Fig21
Source: Paper presented at SAMAB conference, 1998, by Dr. Susan Kask and Peter Morton

Scenic beauty is also a growing incentive for non-tourism business activities in the region. In a study by Kask and Morton, 47% of 350 surveyed businesses listed scenic beauty and related quality of life values as the first or second choice for relocating their business to the mountain region of western North Carolina. (22)