Welcoming the guest: a new attitude or an old habit?
(University of Perugia)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the local adaptation to tourism in a village where tourism seems to have appeared as a post-socialism response to the critical economic situation.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores ambiguities and paradoxes of tourism where host people pretend no continuities and complete eradication with socialist ideology but, at the same time, the principles of mutuality are evident in the practises. Fieldwork was carried out in Botiza (Romania) in post-socialist period and coincided with time of transformation, in which there were few tourists and local tourism politics were hardly developed, and the current moment in which the tourism demand is growing exponentially. In a few years people and the administration had to review local social dynamics, in order to organise the village and to deal with the increasing tourism demand. Both local families and the administration invest tourism profit to higher hosting standards and to promote the entrance of Botiza in tourism networks. Therefore, the village has gone through a process of transformation generally recognized as 'modernisation'. Local people are proud of it and see tourism as the major leader of this change. Continuity with socialism is openly rejected and the relationship between hosts and guests seems to avoid completely political issues. The presence of tourists during the socialist period may only be recollected by few local narratives that tend to minimise or even to forget it. Manipulation of this sort of information is common in areas that have feared laws, which would prosecute those hosting foreign people. However, the adaptation of local people to manage the village for tourist purposes reveals an ability to cope with the "other" and to adjust to diverse practises.
Eastbound: perspectives on tourism in Central and Eastern Europe