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Genealogical tourism redefining leisure travel market, professor says
Date:3/4/2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. For the work-weary, the word "vacation" may conjure images of leisurely, carefree days at the beach sipping umbrella drinks. But according to published research by a University of Illinois expert in tourism and recreation, genealogical tourism is one of the fastest growing markets in vacation travel because it represents a conscious shift away from relaxation and into the realm of personal enrichment and fulfillment.

The increase in popularity of genealogical tourism reflects contemporary tourists' preference for authentic, lived experiences over the bubble-like environment of an all-inclusive resort or a pleasure cruise, says U. of I. recreation, sport and tourism professor Carla Santos.

"Genealogical tourism provides an irreplaceable dimension of material reality that's missing from our postmodern society," Santos said.

Traveling to the old church where one's great grandparents used to worship in rural Ireland, or buying a loaf of bread from a tiny grocery store in the village where one's grandmother was from in Greece create a critical space to imagine and feel life as a form of continuation, says co-author and U. of I. graduate student Grace Yan.

The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Travel Research, also asserts that the popularity of genealogical tourism is due to living in a world where mediated, inauthentic experiences have become such an ingrained part of everyday life that we're almost unaware of it.

"Genealogical tourism capitalizes on this by allowing individuals to experience the sensuous charms of antiquity, and provides a way of experiencing something eternal and authentic that transcends the present," Santos said.

In academic analyses of the 1980s and early 1990s, tourism was seen through the lens of an escape from the reality of the workaday world. Today, scholars approach travel and tourism in a much more complex and nuanced fashion, the author
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Contact: Phil Ciciora
pciciora@illinois.edu
217-333-2177
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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