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Genealogical Tourism

Researchers: Genealogical tourism rapidly replacing days at the beach

Mar 07, 2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Genealogical tourism, visiting where great-grandparents or grandparents once lived, is rapidly replacing days at the beach for vacation, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Illinois in Champaign, led by Carla Santos, say this rapidly growing form of tourism represents a move -- mostly by baby-boomers -- away from the escapist vacations popular for the last 15 years.

The analysis, published in the Journal of Travel Research, suggests mediated, inauthentic experiences that have become an ingrained part of everyday life may be driving the movement toward genealogical tourism.

"We believe that movement is due partly to the increasing sociological awareness of the post-industrial society that we currently live in," Santos said in a statement. "Genealogical tourism provides an irreplaceable dimension of material reality that's missing from our postmodern society."

The researchers say tourists reconnecting with the past, whether by worshiping in a great-grandparent's church in Ireland or buying bread in a grandmother's village in Greece, may be a way of seeking a more coherent and continuous -- albeit imagined -- view of themselves in connection with the past.

"Not only does it help to mitigate the desires and anxieties about our age, genealogical tourism also encourages us to take a more humanistic approach toward issues of belonging, home, heritage and identity," Santos said.

Researchers: Genealogical tourism rapidly replacing days at the beach
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