The purpose of this paper is to identify and explore how different stakeholders represent communist and revolution heritage for tourism, with a case-study on Bucharest, the capital city of Romania. The research attempts to identify gaps and tensions between representation makers on communist heritage tourism.
The research employs a range of qualitative methods in order to explore communist heritage tourism representation from different perspectives: content analysis of secondary data in the form of government, industry and media destination promotional material; interviews with a range of representation producers (government, industry and media); focus groups with potential tourists; and content analysis of user generated content under the form of blogs by actual visitors to Bucharest.
Findings reveal that there are gaps between the “official” or government representations of communism and revolution heritage and “unofficial” or industry, media and tourists’ representations. The research confirms and builds on Light’s (2000a, b) views that communist heritage is perceived as “problematic” by government officials and that attempts have been made to reinterpret it in a different light. The process of representation is made difficult by recent trends such as the increase in popularity of communism heritage tourism in countries such as Germany or Hungary. The potential of communist and revolution heritage to generate tourism is increasingly being acknowledged. However, reconciliation with “an unwanted” past is made difficult because of the legacy of communism and the difficulties of transition, EU-integration, economic crisis or countless political and social crisis and challenges. The “official” and “unofficial” representations successfully coexist and form part of the communism and revolution heritage product.
The research attempts to look at the representation of communism heritage from different angles, however, it does not exhaust the number of views and perspectives that exist on the topic. The research only records the British and Romanian perspectives on the topic. The topic is still in its infancy and more research is needed on communism heritage tourism and representation.
The research identifies and explores gaps, agreements and disagreements over the representation of communist and revolution heritage in Bucharest, Romania.
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