Alternative tourism geographies: leveraging the ironic case of Pennsylvania's Route 666 for economic development

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Nemeth, DJ & Che, D 2013, 'Alternative tourism geographies: leveraging the ironic case of Pennsylvania's Route 666 for economic development', Applied Geography, vol. 45, pp. 109-118.

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Our paper reconciles dark tourism with phantasmal destination tourism in order to promote the potential for successfully marketing roadways numbered “666” as an economic development strategy appropriate to distressed localities in the USA. We focus our attention on the David Zeisberger Highway in rural Pennsylvania as a case study. We propose a routes 666 phantasmal tourism promotion that socially constructs a “magical reality” with niche tourism potential by tapping into what we identify as the already latent power of “The Beast” widespread in the public imagination as inspired by the Book of Revelation 13:18 (“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”). We combine the premises and conceptualizations set forth in dark tourism, phantasmal destination, applied tourism and rural geography, and rural tourism research with scientific insights provided by “the fallacy of selective thinking” to argue that 666 roadways can offer a marketable “looking for the Beast” experience. Our case study of Pennsylvania Route 666 envisions the potential of this roadway as a prototype “Route 666 looking for The Beast experience”. We find a synergy and new economic potential in the combination of dark tourism and phantasmal destination tourism concepts that inspire explorations of new frontiers in tourism for economic development. Our study is innovative in its conception and proposes a rational and specific plan for rural economic development involving niche tourism promotion.

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