An American Perspective on European Roots Tourism

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If we take an honest look at ourselves and our lineage, we all came from somewhere else. Recent and ancient migrations created populations around the world of composite ethnicities and cultures. The study of migrations helps preserve the fragments of knowledge that otherwise would be lost about who we are. When who we are emerges beyond the academic and political to become personal the question of "Where did we come from?" can be a motivator to do more than just assert "I am English", "French", "Basque", "Bavarian", "European", "American", or countless other identities we may have. Heritage tourism is a collective term for the market of tourists who travel to places outside their current home "motivated wholly or in part by interest in the historical, artistic, scientific or lifestyle/heritage offerings of a community, region, group or institution", (Silberberg 1995, p. 361). Or more simply stated "heritage tourism" really means nothing more than tourism centred on what we have inherited (Yale 1991, p. 21). "Legacy" or "roots" tourism is an important subsegment of Heritage Tourism.

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