Ethnic tourism (or so called sentimental tourism) relates mainly to international travel. Participants of ethnic tourism are searching for their identity, roots, origin and values. Sentimental tourism is often identified with ethnic tourism, which is not necessarily right. The term "ethnic tourism" in the scientific literature is understood in two ways. In the first approach it is treated as field trips to learn and make contacts with people of different cultural areas (desire to experience cultural diversity), while in the second as the traveling of people of the same ethnic group. And it is hard to precisely differentiate ethnic tourism from a sentimental tourism.
Definition of ethnic tourism
In the absence of a strict definition of ethnic tourism, there is need to clarify the individual words of that definition. At first attention is called to the "tourist character" of a trip. These are the journeys falling within the scope of tourism, but they not include commercial activity and forced eviction to their own country. Traveling within the country such as the trip to visit family, also can not be called "ethnic" tourism. Such trips do not change the ethnic environment in the country. As for the term "origin" it is dealing with people who, although not themselves come from places visited, but have taken the trip because of a desire to meet with the place of origin of their ancestors. An important term is "identity". Thanks to him we can put in the context of ethnic tourism, numerous trips, where people visit places important for the nation, its history and culture, despite the lack of personal or family relationship with these areas.
Diaspora as a form of ethnic tourism
The starting point for reflection on contemporary sentimental tourism (ethnic tourism) is the phenomenon of diaspora, that is, the dispersion of the whole nations abroad. Diaspora has two sources, the first approach is the emigration from the home country and in the second form of ethnic communities as a result of changes in state borders. This phenomenon is accompanied by the formation of the ethnic groups, understood as a social group, which has a common origin and culture.
An important role in the sentimental journeys undertaken by the ethnic groups plays a sense of common cultural heritage. Tourists usually those seeking contact with their country of origin, country home, country of birth of their ancestors. This kind of tourism is also called back to the roots. Tourists often seek their ancestors, they want to establish relationship and maintain any contact with the family.
Main destinations of ethnic tourism
The countries in which ethnic tourism is of great importance, are: Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and Greece, to which arrive many descendants of participants of great migration in the nineteenth century, while in Central Europe and especially in Poland, a large migratory movement was associated with World War II and its political consequences. Contemporary manifestations of ethnic tourism are sentimental Germans traveling in areas of western and northern Polish, special places where they visit cemeteries, monuments; Israeli citizens, the descendants of Jews who come to Poland to places where Jewish culture flourished, or to places where Holocaust took place.
Elements of sentimental trip
The typical features of ethnic trip include a strong concentration of programs at locations associated with a particular ethnic group, and a great desire and motivation to familiarize tourists with souvenirs of the past, or even to a deeper personal encounter with the history of the country and its present situation. Organized groups have a guide, which greatly facilitates the transfer of information, but a common problem is that some of the participants express a desire to visit particular site individually. At such moments, a lot depends on the skill of the guide, who must arrange individual expeditions. Ethnic tourism is heavily influenced by the political situation and freedom to travel, because very often immigrants can not arrive to places from where they previously emigrated. A common reason is not economic situation, but persecution, border changes, tensions and ethnic conflicts.
Examples of Ethnic tourism
- Cultural Tours: These are organized trips that focus on the culture of a certain ethnic group. Cultural tours usually take place in the country where the particular culture is found and can include visits to historical sites, museums, and other cultural attractions.
- Ethnic Food Tours: Ethnic food tours are a great way to explore a different culture through the cuisine it offers. These tours usually include visits to restaurants, street food stalls, and food markets, as well as cooking classes, market visits, and more.
- Ethnic Festivals and Celebrations: These are events that are held to celebrate a particular cultural group's traditions and customs. These festivals can include music, dance, art, and food, and provide a great opportunity to learn more about a different culture.
- Language and Immersion Tours: Language and immersion tours are great for those who are interested in learning about a different culture through direct immersion. These tours involve living with a local family, attending language classes, and participating in cultural activities.
Advantages of Ethnic tourism
A major advantage of ethnic tourism is that it can provide travelers with unique experiences that they can’t find elsewhere. It can be a great opportunity to learn and experience a new culture. It also allows travelers to gain insight into the history, customs and traditions of a foreign land. Additionally, it can help to strengthen relationships and understanding between different ethnic and national groups. Finally, it can also help to promote economic development and create employment opportunities in the region, as well as generating revenue for the local government. Ethnic tourism can also be beneficial to the environment, as it can lead to increased conservation efforts and responsible tourism practices.
Limitations of Ethnic tourism
A major limitation of ethnic tourism is that it can be difficult to define and differentiate from sentimental tourism. There are several other limitations that should be taken into consideration when planning an ethnic tourism experience, including:
- Limited access to authentic cultural experiences: Depending on the destination, access to some cultural experiences may be limited due to language barriers, cost, or limited availability.
- Ethical considerations: Ethical considerations must be taken into account when engaging in ethnic tourism, as certain cultural practices may be deemed unacceptable, or even offensive, by some groups.
- Potential exploitation: Ethnic tourism can also be seen as exploitative, as some tourists may seek out cultural experiences without truly understanding or respecting the beliefs and customs of the people being visited.
- Safety: In some areas, ethnic tourism may put tourists at risk. Areas with high levels of political unrest or violence may be unsafe for ethnic tourists, and should be avoided.
- Cost: Ethnic tourism can be expensive, especially if the destination is remote or difficult to access.
Other approaches related to ethnic tourism include:
- Cultural tourism: This form of tourism involves traveling to areas of cultural significance, such as places of historical importance, religious sites, and areas of cultural heritage. It often involves an educational component, and can involve experiencing local customs and traditions.
- Heritage tourism: This form of tourism is focused on visiting and learning about sites of historical and cultural importance. It often includes activities such as visiting monuments, museums, and other culturally significant places.
- Immigrant tourism: This type of tourism is when people travel to their ancestral homeland or countries of origin. It often involves activities such as visiting relatives, experiencing local culture, and learning about their history.
- Indigenous tourism: This type of tourism focuses on preserving and celebrating the culture and traditions of indigenous peoples. It often involves activities such as visiting traditional sites, learning about and participating in local customs and traditions, and supporting local businesses.
In summary, other approaches related to ethnic tourism include cultural tourism, heritage tourism, immigrant tourism, and indigenous tourism. All of these forms of tourism involve learning about and experiencing different cultures and customs, and can be an important way for people to learn more about their own identity and their place in the world.
- Harron, S., Weiler, B., & Hall, C. M. (1992). Ethnic tourism. Special interest tourism., 83-94.
- Leong, L. W. T. (1997). Commodifying ethnicity: State and ethnic tourism in Singapore. Tourism, ethnicity and the state in Asian and Pacific societies, 71-98.
- Ostrowski, S. (1991). Ethnic tourism—focus on Poland. Tourism Management, 12(2), 125-130.