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Embedded Identity: Pacific Islanders, Cultural Economies, and Migrant Tourism Product

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Few researchers look behind engagement in the formal tourism industry to the conscious choices that some cultural communities make not to take part in tourism. An assumption made by migrant participants in this research is that community-initiated cultural tourism, successful as an enterprise strategy in homeland nations (where tourism is central to GDP), should transfer readily to a market economy model as a contributor to improved social and economic well-being. Is this the case? An in-depth study of the lived experience of five communities of migrant Pacific Island nations reveals flaws in that assumption. This article articulates the viewpoint of potential host communities. First it theorizes a model of interactions in cultural tourism from the literature. Next, it describes the cultural context and research protocols for 19 extended discussion groups; first with Pacific entrepreneurs and then their extended cultural communities. These explored the lived experience of supply of cultural products and factors that hinder or encourage engagement in formal businesses such as tourism. Findings highlight the importance of diasporan identity, demographic change, concepts of future rather than immediate earnings, and a mismatch between leadership aspirations and community capacity to engage in tourism in a Western market economy. Implications are drawn from the findings for the Pacific cultural communities and for tourism. This research contributes a new understanding of some conditions that discourage entry into the formal tourism industry and introduces the notion of migrant "cultural economies" (ceremonial, informal, and formal), which redistribute wealth and people, affecting future employees, markets, and supply.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-02-01

More about this publication?
  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.
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