Devils Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West / Edition 1by Hal Rothman
Pub. Date: 10/28/1998
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
The West is popularly perceived as America's last outpost of unfettered opportunity, but twentieth-century corporate tourism has transformed it into America's "land of opportunism." From Sun Valley to Santa Fe, towns throughout the West have been turned over to outsiders-and not just to those who visit and move on, but to those who stay and control.
Although tourism has been a blessing for many, bringing economic and cultural prosperity to communities without obvious means of support or allowing towns on the brink of extinction to renew themselves; the costs on more intangible levels may be said to outweigh the benefits and be a devil's bargain in the making.
Hal Rothman examines the effect of twentieth-century tourism on the West and exposes that industry's darker side. He tells how tourism evolved from Grand Canyon rail trips to Sun Valley ski weekends and Disneyland vacations, and how the post-World War II boom in air travel and luxury hotels capitalized on a surge in discretionary income for many Americans, combined with newfound leisure time.
From major destinations like Las Vegas to revitalized towns like Aspen and Moab, Rothman reveals how the introduction of tourism into a community may seem innocuous, but residents gradually realize, as they seek to preserve the authenticity of their communities, that decision-making power has subtly shifted from the community itself to the newly arrived corporate financiers. And because tourism often results in a redistribution of wealth and power to "outsiders," observes Rothman, it represents a new form of colonialism for the region.
By depicting the nature of tourism in the American West through true stories of places and individuals that have felt its grasp, Rothman doesn't just document the effects of tourism but provides us with an enlightened explanation of the shape these changes take. Deftly balancing historical perspective with an eye for what's happening in the region right now, his book sets new standards for the study of tourism and is one that no citizen of the West whose life is touched by that industry can afford to ignore.
Table of Contents
2. Tourism and the Framing of a Culture
3. The Tourism of Hegemony: Railroads, Elites, and the Grand Canyon
4. The Tourism of Hegemony II: The Railroad, Neonativity, and Santa Fe
5. Tourism on the Actual Periphery: Archaeology and Dude Ranching
6. Intraregional Tourism: Automobiles, Roads, and the National Parks
7. From Steamboat Springs to Sun Valley: Regional and Nationally Marketed Skiing
8. The Spread of Recreational Tourism: Skiing in the Postwar West
9. Residence-based Resorts: Second Homes and Outside Influence
10. "Powder Aplenty for Native and Guest Alike": From Community to Corporate Control
11. Entertainment Tourism: Making Experience Malleable
12. Purifying the Wages of Sin: Corporate Las Vegas
13. The Melange of Postmodern Tourism
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In this provocative examination of the development of the tourism trade in the American West, Hal Rothman focuses on the evolution of the industry from the nineteenth century through the present. Rothman¿s investigation is both analytical and critical, as he demonstrates how the effects of the initial stages of tourism on a community may seem unobtrusive. Over time however, the community may find that their local concerns have become subject to the enslavement of a unique, new form of corporate tourism. As their residual benefits dwindle, these communities are often forced to sit back and watch as their tourism revenues fill the pockets of opportunity-seeking outsiders. Furthermore, while many economically depressed communities may have benefited from the introduction of tourism into their region, Rothman questions the long-term price they may have had to pay for the use of tourism in their region as a commercial enterprise. He points out that as the industry flourishes, community members may find themselves strangers in their own home towns, regulated by business interests that cater to visitors to the area instead of its natives. In the end they may regret having `sold their soul¿ for the tourist dollar. Rothman also details the development of tourism as it evolved from the efforts of the transcontinental railroad to increase its patronage, to the upsurge of post-World War I auto travel. The American penchant for entertainment and recreation, as well as a rise in consumerism after World War II, also perpetuated an increase in tourism. The development of major dollar theme parks and recreational facilities such as Disneyland, Knott¿s Berry Farm, the Las Vegas Strip, and western ski resorts were the result. These industries have more than supplemented traditional means of western economic development; in some cases, they have completely replaced it. Moreover, these self-styled `service industries¿ have created stratified environments in which low-wage workers, serve up fun and frolic for wealthy travelers and their families. This has created a new breed of tourist that has become more enraptured by the practice of tourism than in the attractions they travel to see. Modern tourism has now been reduced to a process by which customers order up and purchase a travel adventure, just as one would purchase goods or services. Today, the entire tourism industry is geared toward providing these customers with a tourism experience as a packaged commodity. Consequently, this processing of the experience determines exactly what and how the tourist will feel about the attraction. In its earliest beginnings, tourism allowed people to experience the world around them. The modern tourism industry now dictates how they shall feel about it and why. Rothman, who serves as the Chair of the History Department at the University of Nevada, is a professor of Environmental, U.S., and Public History. He is an expert on western tourism and the author of many books on the subject. This careful assessment is a great resource to use in the effort to come to terms with the development of the West as we know it today.