Genealogy tourism, sometimes called roots tourism, is a segment of the tourism market consisting of tourists who have ancestral connections to their holiday destination. These genealogy tourists travel to the land of their ancestors to reconnect with their past and "walk in the footsteps of their forefathers".
Genealogy tourism has been prominent in Ireland; 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 in 2004, and its present levels are now unknown. Scotland staged a homecoming festival in 2009 to appeal to genealogy tourists.
Many African Americans and other Diaspora Africans were motivated to travel to the African homelands by Alex Haley's best-selling book and 1977 television mini-series Roots. Areas frequently visited include Cape Coast and Elmina in Ghana, Goree Island in Senegal, Juffureh in Gambia and Bahia in Brazil. African governments recognized this opportunity for development in tourism. Successive governments in Ghana, for example, have made efforts through the Ministry of Tourism to attract Diaspora Africans to Ghana, including the African African-American summit in 1999, the biannual Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival, Emancipation Day celebrations and Juneteenth.
Genealogy tourists often participate in tracing their ancestral lineages; digital access to historical records, as well as DNA studies in recent years, have allowed an increasing number of people to identify the homelands of their ancestors. Many genealogy tourists opt to employ the assistance of a genealogy research firm prior to their anticipated travel dates in order to create a personalized travel itinerary based on the lives of their ancestors.
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