Opinion: Beware ‘Gatlinburginazation’

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, located at the western gateway of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, serves as a cautionary tale in the debate about a proposed resort near Slade in Eastern Kentucky.

1 minute read

August 3, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


The Gatlinburg Space Needle is visible in this photo of Gatlinburg, located in Sevier County, Tennessee | Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

An opinion piece by David Musser for the Lexington Herald Leader spreads the word about the negative effects of committing to a “Gatlinburg-type model” of economic development.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a mountain resort city, with an aerial tramway, the “Gatlinburg Space Needle,” and other man-made tourist attractions like a suite of Ripley’s attractions, from an aquarium to a haunted adventure and an odditorium.

With a similar type of resort development proposed for Slade in the Red River Gorge area in Eastern Kentucky, Musser is on the offensive: “…the Gatlinburganization of any area causes negative environmental outcomes, accompanied by low-paying seasonal jobs that do little good for the local citizens. National corporate restaurants and motels suck money from the area and into the pockets of outside investors,” according to the opinion piece.

While listing numerous other reasons to reject the plan, Musser concludes that the state of Kentucky should focus on drawing people to its natural wonders. “The proposed model at Slade would not be a gateway to Eastern Kentucky. It would be the stopping point, the final destination. It would be a wall to keep visitors from entering the rest of the region.”

The article cites a paywalled editorial published separately by the Lexington Herald Leader for most of its evidence.

Friday, July 22, 2022 in Lexington Herald Leader

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