Genealogists spend millions of dollars every year traveling to visit the lands of their ancestors as well as to major genealogy centers in Salt Lake City, Utah; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Washington, DC; Houston, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; England; Ireland; Scotland; Israel; and elsewhere. Genealogists spend money on hotels, restaurants, gasoline purchases, and, oh yes, photocopying fees. However, many state tourism organizations seem to ignore this potential source of wealth.
NOTE: One major exception is the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department website at www.TravelOK.com/genealogy, which assists visitors seeking to connect with their ancestry. You can learn more about Oklahoma's success in my earlier article at http://goo.gl/akqqE.
Genealogy tourism has always been popular but the recent surge in genealogy-related television programs has further expanded the popularity.
Wikipedia even contains an article about genealogy tourism at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogy_tourism that says (in part):
Genealogy tourism is a worldwide industry, although it is more prominent in countries that have experienced mass emigration at some time in history and thus have a large worldwide Diaspora community. For example, genealogy tourism has been prominent in Ireland for some time. Recorded genealogy tourism peaked in the year 2000 as 116,000 genealogical visitors traveled to the island. The Irish Tourist Board ceased recording genealogy visitors numbers from 2004, and its present levels are now unknown. Now the genealogy tourism is very popular to countries of Central Europe where the World War II caused mass migrations of population. Particulary Jewish genealogy tourism is very popular and on the rise.
Quoting the BBC web site at http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20120404-a-trip-back-to-your-roots:
Genealogy tourism -- combining a trip away with a trip down memory lane -- is one of the fastest growing travel sectors, according to University of Illinois research. One million people, for example, visit Scotland each year, motivated by their ancestral activities and generating £730 million for the economy, according to tourism authority VisitScotland.
Another interesting article can be found on the Burnett Thorne web site at http://www.burnettthorneculturaltourism.com/genealogy_tourism.html.
One bit of advice: don't go visit your ancestral homeland(s) unprepared. Many people have simply shown up in the country of ancestral origin and then tried to find information about ancestors, sometimes without even knowing the names or birthplaces involved. Almost everyone has failed to find much information this way. Instead, before you book a flight, spend some time talking to older relatives and then research your roots on sites like Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org or Genes Reunited.
Look further at records in the places your ancestors emigrated to in order to learn more about their lives in "the new country" and to obtain further clues about their origins. Find as much as you can about names, death and marriage certificates, immigration and electoral rolls, as well as towns of origin. You will then be far better prepared when you land in "the old country."
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