A graduate-level course in heritage tourism

This is for the folks who decided on making Springfield a magnet for Lincoln tourism.

(1) Gettysburg poses a huge heritage tourism problem for the many second- and third-tier destinations in the same area. It's a magnet that consumes out-of-state visitors. Even second- or third-time visitors - people who must have some sense of the local geography - have told me, "I'll visit Antietam next year," as if that required a whole separate vacation. As for nearby Harpers Ferry, Crampton's Gap, or Ball's Bluff, forget it. Our regional officials have known about this effect for decades and struggled with it. You might have consulted with them.

Consider your many, many Lincoln sites officially nuked by the new Library and Museum.

(2) Heritage trails are useful and productive for channeling tourists among a number of sites of roughly equal interest. They do not (cannot) offset the absorbing effects of a mega-attraction. Prospects for your Looking for Lincoln tour are looking bad.

(3) Your megasite effect creates long-term systemic problems for your entire tourism industry. Pennsylvania officials listed their woes. Consider each of their ills in light of your new situation:

* Fragmentation of effort - It is now a war for resources arraying the small against the large.

* Lack of public education and awareness - Local attractions will get local press; the major attraction will draw national attention consistently.

* Uneven quality in site restoration and interpretation - This will be a function of uneven distribution of resources.

* Inadequate visitor service infrastructure - This will afflict the underfunded rural attractions.

* Lack of aggressive marketing - Ditto.

* Insufficient investment - The state will back its big winner on the grounds that one should reinforce success rather than failure.

Please keep in mind that you Illinois officials have yourselves blundered into these thoroughly documented intractable problems and that hotel taxes and other local fees are failed ideas that have not solved the tourism deficit anywhere.