ASTC Sustainable Tourism
What ASTC is exited about
Year Round Tourism on a High Scale
Our region is within a days drive of some of the highest population densities in the country. Unlike the western interior which takes 2-4 days to drive to from the east, this five state region has about 2/3rd of the population in just a days drive.
Our regional climate has fours seasons, yet allows visitors 12 months out of the year, and with far less crowding issues that are found in the west during their peak months.
The USA has an excellent Air Travel infrastructure, and millions of miles of roads.
The population density has dropped off drastically in our Coal Country areas (far eastern KY, far Southwestern VA, and Southwest WV) over the last 30 years, yet the roads are still present and well maintained. In fact, roads are still being built today. 460 Connector in Buchanan County, VA; and the 680 Connector in Floyd County, KY This creates many avenues of approach with less traffic for weekend rides.
Low Population Density
What's interesting is that in eastern KY, southwestern VA, and southern WV, the population density drops off considerable from the surrounding areas. There are plenty of old strong buildings that can be utilized for organizational startups to draw in people from the big city. This, coupled with how the the pandemic has created a 10 year leap in cultural and technical advancements in business telecommunicating in just a few months, has ASTC very exited!
Our region has an aging demographic, and this will lead to a influx of new residents over the next 20 years as real-estate drops in price, and as more people around the world decide to relocate from urban areas and look for a higher quality of life in the country.
ASTC predicts there will be more people moving into the mountains as the century progresses.
Near Clean Slate
When Coal was King for nearly 100 years, there was very little economic diversity implemented. Over the last 25 years the coal industry has been in major decline. This generational shrinkage of the regional economy has forced towns and counties to look to other revenue streams. With sound planning and collaboration, a strong service industry that is supplemented by tourism will attract more investors. This economic diversity will attract more industry and citizens who enjoy the outdoors and the unique culture, climate, and geography of the Appalachian region.
KY, VA, and WV have more in common (a cleaner slate) because their mountains produced much more coal than in NC and TN. NC and many parts of TN are far more developed with tourism, and specifically nature based tourism. KY, VA, and WV do not need to catch up to NC and TN, but instead work together to the betterment of all.
ASTC is exited that organizations like Appalachian Highlands are doing just that, by crossing state lines and connecting stakeholders.
It should be noted that over the last 25 years communities have been working hard to embrace tourism, and should be applauded for their successes.
Rich Culture and Natural Resources
One could argue that all areas of the globe have rich culture. Fair enough.
We'll just focus on Natural Resources because many areas around the world do not have this amazing luxury like the Appalachian Mountains have.
The 1911 Weeks Act allowed the Federal Government to look back to the east and acquire mostly neglected lands and create National Parks, National Forests, National Recreational Areas, and more. These public lands offer a strong foundation for nature based tourism.
Just recently (2019) an amazing land purchase of 253,000 acres was completed by The Nature Conservancy in our service area. In time, much of this acreage could become part of our Public Domain Lands.
After reading, please join the discussion on what you are exited about for our region.