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Tourism and Ethnic Identity Development: The Impact of “Heritage Greece” Program

D. Gavrili-Alexandris () and G. Katsas
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D. Gavrili-Alexandris: Deree—The American College of Greece
G. Katsas: Deree—The American College of Greece

A chapter in Innovative Approaches to Tourism and Leisure, 2018, pp 133-143 from Springer

Abstract: Abstract Can tourism provide the context for the development of ethnic identity? As research and practical experience indicate, the answer is yes. But the context varies and so does the level of impact. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to explore the impact of cultural immersion programs for the strengthening of ethnic identity. The impact of such programs is considerable, especially in relation to their implications on major economic, social and political dimensions for all parties involved. This paper uses the Heritage Greece program as a case study, employing a time series analysis of responses to two surveys of participants: one before arrival to Greece and the other at the conclusion of the program. The Heritage Greece program, run by Deree College and funded by the National Hellenic Society, brings every summer about 50 college students of Greek descent from the USA to Greece for a two-week experiential visit. The findings suggest that the impact is considerable, especially as it relates to breaking misconceptions and stereotypes about ethnic identity. However, it is understood that the findings may not apply to any such program, as they are reflecting Greek cultural context. On the other hand, they are indicative of the possibilities of similar programs. This connects to practical and social implications: the paper relates to experiential learning as a tool to explore ties to ethnic identity. In addition, it establishes cultural tourism as a vehicle for bringing together heritage and ethnic identity and highlights the opportunities emerging for the destination as a result of the bridging of heritage to ethnic identity. The findings of the paper can help establish cultural immersion programs or redesign existing ones.

Keywords: Diaspora tourism; Ethnic identity; Heritage tourism; Cultural tourism; Cultural immersion program (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-67603-6_9

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