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Mythic FrontiersRemembering, Forgetting, and Profiting with Cultural Heritage Tourism$
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Daniel R. Maher

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062532

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062532.001.0001

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Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism

Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism

(p.212) 8 Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism
Mythic Frontiers

Daniel R. Maher

University Press of Florida

This chapter focuses squarely on the redoubling era (1980–present) of the frontier complex. In the face of neoliberalism, deindustrialization, and globalization, rates of tourists to historical sites and museums have declined as have disposable middle class incomes. Nationally and locally, the frontier complex has seen a decline in visitors and now competes with Indian gaming, eco-tourism, and culture tourism abroad. In Fort Smith, Arkansas, the once strong manufacturing city has turned increasingly toward cultural heritage tourism as its industrial base deteriorates. In 2007, Fort Smith won its bid to be home to the US Marshals Museum. Although this venture failed in Laramie, Wyoming, in 2002, and in Oklahoma City in 1990, it was met in Fort Smith with unbridled enthusiasm and the “cruel optimism” of becoming an economic engine for the region. This chapter examines these three attempts at constructing a US Marshals Museum while it critiques the popular notion that cultural heritage tourism is a sure bet.

Keywords:   deindustrialization, globalization, neoliberalism, Indian gaming, US Marshals Museum, Laramie, Wyoming, Oklahoma City, Fort Smith, Arkansas, cultural heritage tourism, cruel optimism

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