Family History Matters: Motivations and Behavior of Legacy Tourists of Irish, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish Heritage
The European Union refers to tourism as ‘the world’s largest industry’ (e.g., Agenda 2010, 1998). In 2000, 698 million people worldwide traveled to a foreign country, spending more US$ 478 billion (Economic Impacts of Tourism, 2002). The World Tourism Organization predicts world tourism growth to continue in 2007 at a rate of about four percent (2007 to be Fourth Year of Sustained Growth, 2006). Nicholls, Vogt, and Jun (2004) identify specific types of heritage tourism including legacy tourism (travel related to genealogical endeavors, McCain and Ray, 2003). For many tourists, what they have learned ‘to understand as history’ is their own family history. In the North of Ireland, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is sponsoring a ‘comprehensive examination of genealogy-related services’ recognizing the ‘role of family history in promoting tourism’ (Mackenzie, Slater, and Roberts, 2004).
Three years of data gathering has yielded over five hundred respondents indicating their motivations for searching for information on their ancestors. Many of these respondents have traveled to sites associated with their ancestors. These respondents include those who have attended lectures by the Ulster Historical Foundation and who visited displays at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival with a focus on Northern Ireland, delegates at a previous Ulster-American Heritage Symposium, and those who attended several Scottish Highland Games during the summer of 2007 in the U.S. and participated in a Clan tour to Scotland. In addition, more general events were surveyed (such as a Family History Conference sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society) and other communities are included (such as attendees at a Basque Studies Conference). Compilations of results will be presented regarding the top motivations for research and travel to find ancestral roots by all groups, as well as any differences displayed by those who have Ulster-specific interest.
Nina Ray. "Family History Matters: Motivations and Behavior of Legacy Tourists of Irish, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish Heritage" XVII Ulster-American Heritage Symposium: Changing Perspectives 1607-2007, Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park. Omagh, Northern Ireland. Jun. 2008.
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