Heritage tourism: travel up, spending down

A new tourism study focused on the Rt. 15 "Hallowed Ground" area has revealed some optimistic information. (The Hallowed Ground website does not seem to link to the study and I am depending on just one news story for summary information.)

The nub:
A new Michigan State study shows people seeking out the past spent more than $247 million at 10 national parks within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, a 175-mile stretch from Gettysburg to Charlottsville.
The conclusion you are invited to draw:
It's estimated that every tax dollar spent on those parks generates $4 in visitor spending within a 50-mile radius of the community.
The heritage tourism folks are apparently still applying old metrics to new data. Beware such modeling, my friends.

In summer, we noticed a funny thing happening at Gettysburg: attendance was up and private spending was down. In other words, people travelled to the park, rented their hotel, and spent parkside not townside. The underlying story is still online. Consider,
So far in 2008 [end of July], hotel occupancy rates are up 13 percent in Gettysburg over 2007 figures, according to the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Officials also estimate more than a half million people have visited the new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center since its opening April 14. Summer events have attracted an additional 86,000 visitors to the area this year.
"Everybody I talk to, they say their business is down," said Crist, president of the Steinwehr Avenue Business Alliance.
(BTW, this reminds of the day I revisited Harper's Ferry and discovered the National Park Service had set up a new bookstore in town to compete with the existing private bookstore. The business of government rolls on.)

Obviously, the tourism industry needs to recalibrate its rules of thumb. More interesting is the issue, what happens to the preservation movement once the Chamber of Commerce loses interest?