Relational Ethnic Tourism in Sicily. Linguistic minorities and rural development.

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Mass tourism has contributed to the spread of English throughout the world, and to portrait local traditions and languages as archaic and folkloristic cultural traits, not a part of real life. Under globalization and the thrust to linguistic homogeneity, local minority language communities are going to weaken their cultural heritage, when conforming to English speaking mass tourists expectations. This is not, however, necessary nor unavoidable. Evidence of the contrary exists: in some cases tourism plays a fundamental role to preserve minority languages (Greathouse-Amador 2005). In the past, languages were not considered as attractors in tourist markets; they showed their potentialities to create economic added value only with respect to requested multilingualism in tourist services. Over last years, the need for relational experiences, that forms what today we name “relational tourism”, has been producing the rise of new tourist requests, both in “heritage” and “ethnic” terms. In the paper, the role of linguistic minorities will be analyzed with reference to the possibility of giving answers to new customer relational needs, in the awareness that both the knowledge of an international global language (English) and the need to preserve minority languages are requested in order to differentiate the supply of new relational cultural goods. Linguistic minorities and their lands today represent relevant attractors for relational tourists. Within the more developed Mediterranean countries, they seem more able to reduce the dangerous cultural impact of tourism than elsewhere, since the successful integration within the broader national community is experienced; pupils already study English (as well as Italian) at school, and know how more comfortable the staying is for tourists who can express in their own language. Our aim is also to show that linguistic minorities can be considered resources to determine economic development especially within rural areas (Sproull 1996; Donaldson 1999). It has in fact been argued that linguistic specificity can be fully considered an asset together with the territory and the artistic and cultural heritage of destinations (Pujolar 2008). Ethnic tourism and the stimulating statistical challenge to construct valid measures for it will be discussed with particular reference to the case of the Arbëreshe language. It is actually spoken within some local communities in Sicily and in the Southern Italy by the descendants of ancient Albanian people who five centuries ago left their land to escape from the Ottoman invasion. Such local communities, today attracting just one-day travellers, need to recover much of their cultural heritage to attract international and domestic tourist flows.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospite3rd International Scientific Conference "Integrated Relational Tourism. Territories and development in the Mediterranean area". Conference proceedings
Numero di pagine12
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2010


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