Nina M. Ray


This article explores the role that language plays in the legacy tourism business, an increasingly important sub-segment of the tourism industry. While seemingly obvious that those traveling to the land of their ancestors may request language help from migration institutions, past research has never asked representatives of migration institutions what help legacy tourists need. Delegates at a recent meeting of the Association of European Migration Institutions participated in a survey about what they perceive to be the most important language needs of their patrons. Most indicated that while some nations, such as Scotland, emphasize that tourists should come learn the language of their ancestors, perhaps most language help by the migration institutions is fairly simple, such as explaining what a surname means. Motivations for interest in family history are also reported, with staff at migration institutions providing comparisons of their perceptions with those motivations reported by real legacy tourists. Norwegian-Americans serve as the ethnicity of emphasis in this paper because of the identifiable nature of Norway as an ancestral homeland in contrast to other ethnicities without a homeland with clear borders. Specific language marketing suggestions are provided for those who are associated with migration institutions and similar entities.