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    Tourism and identity of diasporic communities: a study of post-accession West Slavic migrants in the UK

    Sevcikova, Daniela (2013) Tourism and identity of diasporic communities: a study of post-accession West Slavic migrants in the UK. Masters by Research thesis (MPhil), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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    Abstract

    This research focuses on tourism and identity formation of post-accession West Slavic migrants in the UK. Following the European Union enlargement in 2004, the communities of post-accession migrants became Britain’s increasingly growing populations. Moreover, with the scale of migration from Central Europe, West Slavic diaspora, consisting of Poles, Czechs and Slovaks became the single largest community of foreign nationals residing in the UK. Despite living in the age of migration, with increasing numbers as citizens in Westernized cultures, diasporic and ethnic communities have attracted only trivial attention of the tourism field. Particularly, the portrayal of Britain’s post-accession migrants within the tourism context remains overlooked. This study has adopted interpretivist ethnographic research strategy. Semi-structures in-depth interviews were conducted with 27 West Slavic migrants (12 Poles, 9 Slovaks and 6 Czechs) living in the UK. Data were coded and the themes and sub-themes arising, assisted development of the tourism, migration and cultural model of diasporic identity. This research provides a valuable contribution to the understanding of tourism and identity formation of diasporic communities. The primary research reveals that West Slavic migrants in the UK, similar to Britain’s Afro-Caribbean, South-Asian and Irish diasporas take preferential journeys to their ancestral homelands. Migrant’s ethnic roots and origins impact on their tourism motivation and travel behaviour. Although for some post-accession West Slavic migrants the return visit to homeland was a reminder of migrants’ pasts, this research proposes that most trips to homeland were not related to discovering roots or negotiating identity. This study suggests that the main purpose of homeland tourism is to maintain migrants’ transnational existences and regular social and familial networks and contracts with friends and families across borders. This research demonstrates that post-accession West Slavic migrants travel to their homelands more regularly than other displaced diasporas. These travel patterns were facilitated by the closer proximity to migrants’ homelands, freedom of movement within the EU and the recent development in transportation with availability of cheap flights in Europe. Although tourism plays a role in shaping identities of post-accession West Slavic communities in the UK, the research findings suggest that this role is less influential as demonstrated in similar past studies, especially those researching tourism motivation of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian diasporic communities. Therefore, the study concludes that post-accession West Slavic migrants are correctly referred to as modern transnational migrants, rather than displaced diaspora.

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