A recent study by the 25-county Blue Ridge National Heritage Area shows that mountain visitors escape to the hills for natural beauty and to relax.
This also just in: Water is wet and fire is hot.
In all seriousness, this IS an important study. It shows that tourists don't want man-made (read: tacky) attractions; the scenic beauty of the mountains is enough.
Enough to save, in fact.
"We believe more of our visitors are coming because of the heritage and the chance to escape and relax rather than go to a built attraction," Penn Dameron, the executive director of the heritage area, told the Winston-Salem Journal. "It's not the way we've typically looked at those visitors."
The data was collected from 4,399 surveys collected at 44 tourism destinations. The area stretches from the counties west of Asheville northeast to the counties along the mountains, including Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Yadkin.
Eighty-two percent of overnight visitors and 75 percent of day-trippers had no children under 18 years of age in their travel party, the study found. The largest group of overnight visitors was 56 to 65 years old. The largest group of day-trippers was 46 to 55 years old. The study also found that men tended to be more interested in outdoor recreation, and women were more interested in crafts.
"It's really interesting to see how gender had a specific impact on what activities they participated in," said Mike Evans, a business professor at Appalachian State University who helped work on the 400-page report.
After outdoor activities, men also tended to like attending festivals and events, and visiting farms. After craft activities, women tended to enjoy music and tourist sites in Cherokee.