Clemson International Institute for Tourism Research & Development

Research Project

Sustainable tourism destination/centerpiece project for Floyd and Patrick Counties in Southwestern Virginia in the Rocky Knob area associated with the Blue Ridge Parkway

Principal Investigators: Dr. Jeff Hallo (PRTM, Clemson University) & Dr. Nancy McGehee (Hospitality and Tourism Management, Virginia Tech)

Associate Investigators:  Dr. John McGee (Virginia Geospatial Extension), Dr. Cari Goetchus (Planning and Landscape Architecture, Clemson), Dr. William Norman (PRTM, Clemson),

Funding Source: This was a joint university project, between Virgina Tech and Clemson University, with Virginia Tech serving as the lead investigating institution and Clemson serving as a partner; Sponsor: National Park Service/Blue Ridge Parkway and Blue Ridge Heritage Inc. (initiated through Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units - CESU Network)

Project Description: This collaborative, interdisciplinary project was designed to assist the NPS/BLRI and BRHI in the joint development and planning of a sustainable tourism destination/centerpiece strategy for the Rocky Knob Heritage Project. The cooperative research effort actively involved key community stakeholders.  This approach was a high priority, given the project history and importance to the future economic sustainability of Floyd and Patrick Counties. The project involved integration of GIS/geospatial analysis, landscape analysis and planning, stakeholder interviews, and tourist  surveys to gather information necessary to identify the best strategies for the region. The project involved a multi-disciplinary team of experts and was integrated with graduate student training.

Objectives: 1) Define and inventory the Zone of Influence (ZOI) - asset/resource inventory and assessment, 2)Identify tourism needs - visitor surveys (current and potential), 3) Conduct gap analysis - integration and evaluation of data sources, 4) Make recommendations


July 2, 2009 press release "National study shows most travelers undeterred by economy"

Rocky Knob Final Report 2009