Modern Living: Rating the Tourist

The sign may say WELCOME TO QUAINTSVILLE, but the real message may be GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. That, at least, is what many tourists are beginning to suspect as they get the cold shoulder from communities. The locals are increasingly questioning the assumption that hordes of visitors automatically mean progress and prosperity—and they may be right.

After three postwar decades of headlong tourist development, a number of states from Oregon to Maine have reappraised the actual near-and long-term value of tourism in ecological, social and economic terms. Using a kind of restaurant-rating system in reverse,...

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