Literary tourism, a sub-set of heritage tourism, allows tourists to engage with foreign landscapes in a playful and creative way (Squire 1996; Muresan and Smith 1998). Whether travelling to investigate the setting of a novel or the homestead of an author, literary tourists have pre-existing expectations which they integrate into their active, participatory performances at the destination (Squire 1996; Sorensen 2003; Pine and Gilmore 2008). Such biased framing of the landscape can perpetuate power inequalities at all scales of touristic interactions (Light 2007). In particular, it can marginalize local perspectives and encourage foreign appropriation of cultural landscapes (Smith 2003; Light 2009). Dracula tourism, a phenomenon unique to Romania, provides an excellent case study of this issue. This paper explores the perspectives of tourists, local ethnic communities, and the Romanian government towards Dracula tourism. Based on these perceptions, recommendations are provided on how Romanians could alter the character of tourism to enhance their quality of life. Recommendations include shifting away from packaged Dracula tours to backpacker tourists, involving locals in volunteer positions with existing Dracula tours, and government support for rural Romanian tourism. Limitations to this research, including a lack of primary data and biased secondary sources, are also discussed.
Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic novel Dracula has been influential in shaping external perspectives of Romania and moderating the interactions between tourists and locals (Ronay 1972; Light 2009). Dracula remains a popular novel which is celebrated globally through multiple translations, movie adaptations, television series, games, and fashion (Todorova 1997; Iordanova 2007). Regardless of (or perhaps because of) Stoker’s lack of firsthand knowledge of Transylvania, the novel created a ‘place myth’ of Romania as a culturally backward, economically peripheral nation (Shields 1991; Miller 2000; Iordanova 2007). Place myths are the expectations and attitudes held by the general public towards a destination; this myth making is typically controlled by culturally dominant Western forces (Muresan and Smith 1998; Pine and Gilmore 2008). McNally and Florescu’s (1972) investigation of the connection between Dracula and real-life Romania from the Western perspective contributed to the international image of the destination as a country full of superstitious intrigue. As Dracula tourists do not travel to experience the authentic culture of Romania, but rather the fictitious narrative surrounding its history, their perspectives form a unique case in the tourism literature (Morgan and Pritchard 1998). In contrast, local Romanians want to gain more tourist income while also moving away from the importance of externally-controlled Dracula tourism to their economy. This paper puts forth recommendations for achieving this goal.
Tourist Perspectives of Dracula Tourism
The motivations and experiences of Dracula tourists travelling to Romania have problematic impacts on the country’s social, economic, and cultural contexts. Literary tourism connects the imaginary and the factual worlds (Silk 1984; Herbert 1989); subsequently, people can be motivated to travel to literary landscapes to investigate how true the novel is to the real-life geography and history of the location (Squire 1999; Smith 2003). However, their eagerness to enter into the emotional world of the novel can cause them to ignore aspects of the destination which directly contradict the novel (Reijnders 2011). Local communities must therefore cater to the tourist’s demand for an imaginative experience (Squire 1999; Light 2009). This can require alterations to the destination’s existing social fabric.
The tourist’s desire for a creative, playful experience at the literary destination can have negative impacts on the country’s social landscape. Tourists are increasingly recognized as active players in the formation and evolution of the tourism experience (Sorensen 2003; Light 2009). They travel to destinations with pre-existing expectations formulated through their personal (e.g. lifestyle values), stimulus (e.g. sources of information on the destination), and social (e.g. age, gender) characteristics (Baloglu and McClearly 1999). Once at the destination, their biases control how they feel and behave towards destination objects, events, and vistas (Sorensen 2003; Pine and Gilmore 2008). Dracula tourists in Romania demand from their hosts supernatural danger, excitement, and romance (Malam 2004; Reijnders 2011). Romanian tourist providers therefore feel pressured to enhance these aspects of their tangible and intangible social landscape (Light 2009). Souvenirs, entertainment events, and guided tours must appeal to the imagination of the Dracula tourist (Light 2009). Although local people may see their community history in a different light, economic imperatives require them to provide for visitor demands.
Dracula tourists perform in two different locations, one of which can have problematic economic consequences. First, they may perform in an ‘enclavic’ space where money flows out of the local community and into a foreign country; these spaces tend to lack backward and forward linkages to other sectors in the host country (Light 2009). Second, ‘heterogenous’ spaces allow the tourist’s spending to spread throughout the host community via economic multipliers (Light 2009). A multiplier is when a single dollar spent by a tourist increases spending in other community-level businesses (Iordanova 2007). Enclavic spaces are growing in prevalence due to the strength of modern technology. Dracula tourists are able to read online websites and forums before they travel to Romania, which creates specific expectations for their travel experience (Pine and Gilmore 2008). In particular, their interest in following the routes travelled by early Dracula tourists and their image of Dracula’s castle has resulted in two different enclavic tourist spaces (Gretzel, et al. 2009; Reijnders 2011).
Bran Castle and Hotel Castle Dracula are both enclavic tourist spaces which help to perpetuate the place myth of Romania. Built around 1212 as a connection between Transylvania and Wallachia, Bran Castle is located miles from the fictitious castle described in Stoker’s novel (Muresan and Smith 1998). However, it fits with tourist’s expectations of a vampire’s residence and was adopted by the original travelers as “Dracula’s Castle” (Pine and Gilmore 2008). In contrast, Hotel Castle Dracula was built explicitly for the purpose of catering to tourist demand for vampires (Iordanova 2007). These two locations are enclavic tourist spaces because they do not contribute to other income-generating activities in Romania (Jamal and Tanase 2005). Their isolation from local backward and forward linkages challenges the government’s attempts to alter Romania’s status as an economically peripheral nation (Jamal and Tanase 2005). Local Romanian ethnicities also have little input into the planning and management of these secluded spaces (Iordanova 2007).
Dracula denigrated venerable characters from Romania’s history, and this fictional representation of Romanian’s past has altered cultural interactions between locals and tourists (Shields 1991; Miller 2000; Light 2009). Stoker used his writing skills to create a feeling of elaborate realism in the narrative, which was structured as a collection of diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship’s logs, and newspaper clippings (Ronay 1972; Miller 2000). To create the Dracula of legends, Stoker borrowed from Romanian history Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia and son of Vlad Dracul (Brasov Travel Guide n.d.; Todorova 1997; Newman and Bristow 2004). Born in 1430, Vlad Tepes was a ruthless ruler remembered by Romanians as protecting their country from the Ottomans (Todorova 1997; Light 2009). Tourist knowledge, however, is limited to the exploits of Stoker’s fictional Dracula (Miller 2000). This has negatively affected the country’s sense of national pride, feelings of empowerment, and control of their national image (Miller 2000).
‘Balkanism’ is a term that has been used to describe the cultural interactions between Dracula tourists and Romanian locals (Todorova 1997). Cultural interactions include norms, conduct expectations, and values which are continuously negotiated through social interaction (Sorensen 2003; Pine and Gilmore 2008). ‘Balkanism’ describes the unbalanced power between Western countries and Eastern Europe (Todorova 1997). It is based on Edward Said’s concept of ‘Orientalism’, which describes the unbalanced power between the West and the East (Todorova 1997). Stoker described Romania as an uncivilized place operating on the fringes of ‘real’ humanity (Hennelly 2005). Foreign Dracula tourists who behave based on the concept of ‘Balkanism’ feel free to disrespect Romanian cultures because they are viewed as less important than Western cultures (Light 2009). This has problematic impacts on the Romanian people as they try to build a sense of cultural and national pride after years under a dominant Communist regime. Overall, the tourist’s desire for a creative, imaginative experience in the destination country has social, economic, and cultural implications which are problematic for Romanian communities.
Local Perspectives of Dracula Tourism
Ethnic inequalities in the rural areas of Romania have been perpetuated by Dracula tourism, though sustainable livelihood initiatives have been identified as a potential solution. In 2007, the rural population of Romania was 45 percent of the total population; in contrast, other countries in the European Union only had 24 percent of the population living in rural areas (Iorio and Corsale 2010; p. 152). Hungarians and Romanians remain the dominant ethnicities in the Romanian countryside, with a declining German population and minority Roma peoples (Roberts and Simpson 1999). Quality of life for all ethnic groups is low; there is a lack of water, sewage, and road infrastructure in rural areas (Iorio and Corsale 2010). However, Hall (2004) noted that the Roma ethnic minorities have struggled to maintain their rights throughout the political transitions of Romania’s history. After the removal of the planned market economy in 1989, Romanian land was redistributed to private landowners, creating an imbalance between large commercial farms and smaller, family-run farms (Iorio and Corsale 2010). The Roma population received little land during this process and has since been at a major economic disadvantage (Hall 2004). Most Romanian rural households have turned to Dracula tourism as an economic diversification strategy, attempting to enter the tourist market by opening their houses to travelers (Hall 2004). Despite the rapid growth of Dracula tourism in Romania, however, locals lack the business skills and resources necessary to develop a strong tourism product for foreign visitors (Roberts and Simpson 1999; Iorio and Corsale 2010).
Rural Romanian homesteads have developed a fragile and unstable tourism product for visitors interested in Dracula. Locals interested in providing for literary tourists typically have a large house, desire to interact with foreigners, and strong cooking skills (Iorio and Corsale 2010). Families with the necessary financial, personnel, and natural resources are more successful as tourism providers (Iorio and Corsale 2010). However, business skills are a critical component of sustainable tourist ventures which are lacking in most Dracula tourist operations (Roberts and Simpson 1999; Hall 2004). Additionally, rural Romanian households are isolated and reliant on word-of-mouth marketing for promotion of their business (Roberts and Simpson 1999). Homesteads cannot rely on existing governmental organizations to market their businesses because these organizations tend to exploit or ignore operations at the local level (Reisinger and Steiner 2006). Sustainable livelihood initiatives have been identified as a potential solution for these problems.
Academics promote sustainable livelihood strategies as a way to enhance the benefits gained from Dracula tourism in rural Romania. Livelihoods are the skills, resources, and activities an individual must possess to survive in the modern-day economy (Wall and Mathieson 2006; Tao and Wall 2009). An individual’s livelihood is considered to be sustainable when he or she derives income from a diverse variety of informal economic opportunities which have greater potential to survive economic hardships than a single, formal job (Wall and Mathieson 2006). This is an important concept in rural areas where there are limited skills, funds, and personnel available to develop and maintain businesses (Tao and Wall 2009). However, more concrete action to create sustainable livelihoods for the Romanian population is required by government stakeholders (Iorio and Corsale 2010). Iorio and Corsale (2010) found that 25-50 percent of Romanian rural household income comes from tourism (p. 158). This excessive focus on tourism is problematic, especially since the tourism market is unstable and the product offered weak (Muresan and Smith 1998; Jamal and Tanase 2005; Iordanova 2007). Locals have yet to be offered alternative forms of training and employment from government; they also lack the business training and networking opportunities to maintain their existing tourism businesses (Muresan and Smith 1998; Jamal and Tanase 2005; Iordanova 2007). Although Romanians of all ethnicities have placed their hope in tourism as a source of stable income, there is the need for alternative sources of employment, the opportunity to become more involved in Dracula tourism, and more government support for individual tourist businesses.
Government Perspectives of Dracula Tourism
The progression of the Romanian government’s attitude towards Dracula tourism has influenced the growth and development of this industry. Light (2007) discusses how the government has a role in the tangible (e.g. policy creation) and intangible (e.g. cultural identities) aspects of national tourism development. Between 1945 and 1989, the Communist party ruling Romania based their policies on materialistic, rational principles aimed at forming their country into a respectable player on the global stage (Jamal and Tanase 2005). Dracula tourism was seen as a deterrent to their goal of building international relations and was actively opposed by government officials (Hall 1994; Franklin 2003; Jamal and Tanase 2005). Tourists were allowed into the country in the 1960s through highly-regulated package tours to the beach resorts in the Black Sea, the ski resorts of the Carpathians, or cultural heritage tours of Transylvania (Light 2007). These efforts were aimed at building a positive international image of Romania and increasing national pride in the citizenry (Philip and Mercer 1999).
To exert control over the cultural identities of the Romanian people, the government has manipulated various forms of tourism propaganda. Stoker’s novel was not published or distributed in Romania until 1990 (Todorova 1997). This was problematic because locals were unaware of the reasons behind most tourist interest in their country (Light 2007, 2009). The government also had marketing campaigns throughout the 1980s which promoted Vlad Tepes as a noble ruler worthy of praise for his defense of the country against the Ottomans (Todorova 1997). Local people continue to highly esteem this ruler, despite outside influence from tourists (Light 2009). The Romanian government’s efforts to quell international and national interest in Dracula have been unsuccessful and this image remains a key component of the discourse surrounding Romania (Morgan and Pritchard 1998).
Within the past two decades, the altered position of the post-Communist Romanian government towards Dracula tourism has done little to bolster the country’s international reputation. In 1989, the Communist party collapsed and the country began on a course of political and economic reform (Light 2007). A translated novel and film of Dracula was released to the Romanian public in 1993 (Iordanova 2007). A Dracula-themed amusement park was also scheduled for construction by the government around the same time (Iordanova 2007). The primary purpose of the Count Dracula Park (CDP) was to provide Romania with a ‘hook’ to get tourists to visit the country and see its other attractions (Morgan and Pritchard 2002). A less obvious motive was to make the country appear more confident and in control of its self-image (Iordanova 2007). However, the CDP was plagued with problems and construction was eventually cancelled (Iordanova 2007). Locals disliked the idea of creating an amusement park in response to tourist demands, and an impact analysis revealed that it would have significant environmental impacts on a tract of untouched forest (Iordanova 2007). The CDP consequently embarrassed the Romanian government on an international level, although the country was still accepted into the European Union in 2007 (Hall 2004; Light 2007; Reijnders 2011). The Romanian government has altered its stance on Dracula tourism over time, but has yet to translate this economic activity into tangible benefits for local Romanian populations.
Focus Marketing Efforts on Backpackers
Tourist visitation to Romania is problematic because visitors interested in Dracula tend to spend their money in enclavic tourist spaces and view the local community through the lens of ‘Balkanism’. This has negative social, economic, and cultural consequences for Romania. Additionally, the local population lacks business skills and does not have the capacity to network with other tourist ventures or market at a national-level scale (Iorio and Corsale 2010). As the government’s interest in mass tourist ventures has caused many of these problems, this article proposes a marketing shift away from Dracula tourism and towards backpacker tourists.
Backpacker tourists provide many benefits to a country which cannot be gained through packaged, Dracula-themed tours; however, the stereotypes surrounding backpackers must first be overcome. The Romanian government has focused on Dracula tours as an economic mainstay because of the perception that these enterprises bring in wealthy, easily-managed tourists (Scheyvens 2002; Sorensen 2003). However, Dracula tour companies are mostly owned and operated by companies from Western countries (mostly the United States), and this situation has increased Romania’s reliance on imported products and outside investment (Reijnders 2011). Consequently, foreign tour companies gain tourist revenue while local communities must struggle with the negative environmental and social impacts of tourism (Scheyvens 2002). According to Scheyvens (2002) and Sorensen (2003), there are several reasons why backpacker tourists are desirable:
- Their spending remains within the local community and provides greater multiplier effects, rather than being isolated to enclavic tourist resorts;
- Although they are ‘budget’ travelers looking for cheap accommodations and souvenirs, their extended travel time in the country provides more sustainable (and profitable) economic gains;
- Travel by backpackers is on an individual or small group basis, which lessens the need for centralized control of their impacts; and,
- Backpackers are interested in the natural or social features of the local community, increasing the likelihood for more positive cultural exchanges.
Despite the benefits that backpackers could provide to small, rural tourism ventures currently attempting to attract Dracula tourists, there is an enduring stigma surrounding backpackers. Early backpackers consumed drugs and alcohol while travelling, and had very little regard for local customs (Scheyvens 2002). Although modern-day backpackers continue to feel, in some cases, morally superior and exempt from local laws, there is an increasing level of responsibility in their activities (Scheyvens 2002; Sorensen 2003). Modern backpackers tend to be young professionals or students between the ages of 22 and 35 who are interested in learning more about the local culture and environment (Sorensen 2003). Local Romanians would not require large amounts of capital or foreign language abilities to successfully cater to this adventurous market (Iordanova 2007). Romanian communities could also better manage the small and intimate scale of backpacker tourism to the benefit of their social and cultural status (Scheyvens 2002). Backpackers could therefore provide a sustainable form of income for rural Romanians struggling with an unstable Dracula tourism product.
However, backpackers should not be regarded as a panacea for Romanian tourism. There is still the need for locally-run tourism planning through an organizational body at the community level (Scheyvens 2002; Sorensen 2003). Such a body would have the mandate to determine, through collective decision-making, how locals want to be perceived by tourists; it would also create networking and marketing opportunities for individual tourist ventures (Murphy 2001). Critical to the success of this organizational body would be the inclusion of all community members, including the marginalized Roma ethnicity (Murphy 2001). Backpacker tourists will only prove to be the more sustainable option for Romanian communities if the proper systems for their presence are created. Although they are desirable because of their smaller numbers, economic contribution to local businesses, and interaction with the local community, backpackers still require planning for their presence and impacts. Romanian communities could be encouraged to participate in planning for backpacker tourists through non-governmental organization (NGO) initiatives. This NGO could also act as the organizational body required to coordinate tourism growth at the local level, and should receive indirect and unconditional support from the Romanian government.
Provide Locals with Volunteer Placements
Encouraging the local community to volunteer in Dracula tourism could provide benefits and drawbacks for both the host and the guest. First, directly involving locals in enclavic tourist spaces through volunteer placements could allow them to learn first-hand about Dracula tourism from staff and visitors (Smith 2003). This could build their business skills for future paid employment opportunities within Dracula tourism, or increase their self-confidence in dealing with foreign tourists for the start-up of entrepreneurial initiatives in their home (Reisinger and Steiner 2006). As the Romanian population is resentful of top-down management approaches, they are unlikely to respond positively to government-led initiatives attempting to teach them about Dracula tourism (Roberts and Simpson 1999). Volunteering would offer a no-pressure alternative for locals to get directly involved in Dracula tourism, while offering skill development as a reasonable incentive for participation.
Second, Romanian volunteers could be important to the delivery of quality services to Dracula tourists (Smith 2003). Tour guides are influential in the creation and delivery of the promised destination image, which is linked to the tourist’s experience and their evaluations of destination authenticity (Reisinger and Steiner 2006). Romanians would be likely to volunteer based on the following motives: 1) self-interested factors such as desire to interact socially with foreigners and gain specifics skills; or, 2) altruistic motivations, such as the opportunity to enhance the visitor’s interest in Romania through information sharing (Smith 2003). The latter is the reason that volunteers continue to contribute their time in tourism; they learn more about the location themselves, and share this enthusiasm with the visitor (Smith 2003). Having locals closely interacting with Dracula tourists through volunteer placements would also allow them to freely express their personal perspectives of Romania and share with the tourist unique insights into their culture; this would avoid the influence of Western tour guides over visitor perceptions and the resultant marginalization of Romanian culture (Smith 2003).
However, the potential problems with volunteer placements must be handled with careful solutions. Allowing volunteer placements for local community members to be controlled exclusively by foreign, Western-run tourist organizations could create an abusive situation in which locals are expected to work hard with few benefits (Banyai 2009). Similarly, it may not be reasonable to expect that a poor rural area would have the disposable time and resources necessary to actively volunteer in Dracula tourism (Banyai 2009). It could be feasible, however, to make volunteering a part of the educational experience for young Romanians. Tourism businesses could partner with local schools to develop business-savvy young professionals by having them lead Dracula tours part-time for school credit. Students would graduate with a more worldly perspective than their peers and may choose to later start businesses (tourism-related or otherwise) in Romanian rural communities. Due to the Romanian people’s dislike of government intervention, providing volunteer placement opportunities through schools to create young students with business acumen may be a reasonable option for encouraging the local population to learn more about Dracula tourism.
Subsidize Community Tourism Operations through Government Funding
Image is critical to the success of a destination, but the Romanian government must make more positive funding decisions to advance its international image beyond Dracula tourism (Baloglu and McClearly 1999; Banyai 2009). The recent inclusion of Romania into the European Union has advanced the image of the country as a democratic, economically stable region (Hall 2004). However, the government’s policies are resented by locals desirous of more community-level control over tourism ventures.
Consequently, the Romanian government should be funding Dracula tourism at the community level. Tax reductions on rural accommodation structures are currently the only financial incentives to develop or maintain a certain level of service in independent tourist businesses (Iorio and Corsale 2010). Governments should increase spending on communication and transportation infrastructure in local communities, as well as assist in the marketing of single homesteads attempting to cater to Dracula tourists (Hall 2004; Iorio and Corsale 2010). These funding and marketing endeavors could be handled through the NGO discussed earlier. This NGO should be provided with the necessary resources to organize networking between tourist businesses at the local, national, and international scale. If backpackers are identified as a feasible market for rural Romanians, the NGO should also engage in research studies and public consultation efforts to evaluate how best to go about structuring the proper facilities for this target market. Overall, government funding should be targeted at enabling, rather than controlling, local Romanian communities as they seek to balance Dracula tourism’s impacts with other sources of economic income.
Limitations of Analysis
There are several limitations to the discussion presented in this paper. First, the author has little to no first-hand experience with Romania and its current or historical background. Only through discussion with her peers of Romanian descent has she gained a general awareness of this country and its particular situation. Popular media and academic journals were therefore used as the primary source of information for this paper. However, secondary sources must be critically analyzed for bias to determine flaws in their argument (Creswell 2003). Two papers which precipitated many of the discussions in this article, including Light (2007, 2009) and Reijnders (2011), are analyzed here for their distinct biases.
Light (2007, 2009) suggests that the tourist is the most important factor in Romanian tourism. Dr. Duncan Light is a professor at Liverpool Hope University with an interest in post-socialist change in Central and Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on Dracula tourism (Liverpool Hope University [LHU] 2011). His discussion was reflective of only a small number of tourists, and lacked clear connections to the broader Romanian context (Light 2007, 2009). His firsthand involvement in a “Halloween in Transylvania” tour was also lacking in objectivity and reliability. Objectivity is when a conclusion rendered is based on observable, unbiased phenomena (Patton 2002; Creswell 2003). Unlike some qualitative researchers, Light (2007, 2009) did not report keeping a journal of his experiences to evaluate his own interpretation of events on the tour. He also did not include an analysis (e.g. coding for themes) of any of the promotional materials surrounding this tour (Light 2007, 2009). Both would have been valuable for assuring the reader that his presentation of the facts were not colored by his personal interest in evaluating the Western gaze towards Romania (Patton 2002; LHU 2011). Reliability means that a variable yields the same results in different trials (Creswell 2003). Light (2007, 2009) considered only one Dracula tour in each study and did not seek out supporting data in his analysis. Without his credentials as a Dracula academic (and therefore assumed experience in the subject), his conclusions would have been highly suspect. To overcome this issue, other academic evaluations of Dracula tourism were considered (e.g. Hall 2004; Jamal and Tanase 2005; Iordanova 2007).
Reijnders (2011), similarly, has methodological problems in the framework of his paper. Dr. Stijn Reijnders works out of the Cultural Heritage faculty at the Erasmus University Rotterdam; his research interests are in examining Dracula tourism in the context of television-inspired tourism endeavors (Erasmus University Rotterdam [EUR] 2011). Reijnder’s (2011) study does not attempt to justify his reasons for analyzing two groups of tourists on separate Dracula tours in Romania. Researchers should be trained to analyze their own methodological techniques for gathering data (Patton 2002). The lack of critical analysis in both Light (2007, 2009) and Reijnders (2011) resulted in three refurbished arguments on the importance of perspective in destination image. The failure of both authors to provide objective and reliable results based on properly collected data weakened the strength of their conclusions. Consequently, this paper questioned their results and compared their conclusions to other, similar studies before making any statements regarding Dracula tourism in Romania.
Literary tourism is a phenomenon in which tourists are eager to engage in the fictitious narrative of foreign landscapes. Tourist’s pre-existing expectations about the destination can marginalize local perspectives, thereby damaging existing cultural structures and diminishing local community pride. Dracula provides an ideal case study of this issue because the novel was written specifically to make Eastern Europe into an exotic, backwards, and superstitious object of study for foreign visitors (Light 2007, 2009). Romania is also an interesting example of literary tourism because of the unique power relationship between the post-Communist government and largely rural population (Todorova 1997; Iordanova 2007).
Currently, academics use Dracula tourism in Romania primarily as an example of the problematic perspectives in literary tourism (e.g. Light 2007, 2009; Reijnders 2011). Few studies have proposed recommendations for Romanian communities to take control of tourism for their own benefit. This paper proposes a shift in marketing away from Dracula tourists to the more sustainable backpacker tourists, campaigns to involve school-age children in volunteer initiatives in enclavic tourist spaces, and government funding for community-level organizations.
These suggestions are based on perspectives towards tourism in Romania. Tourists travelling in Romania demand the reproduction of the novel Dracula in their travels and are isolated from the local Romanian communities. Encouraging more backpacker tourists through marketing initiatives could allow for more economic and cultural integration between host and guest. Lessening the impact of stereotypes on host-guest interactions in Romanian tourism could also be achieved by encouraging schoolchildren to undertake volunteer placements in established Dracula tourism sites. This could benefit the local population by providing their youth with training in business skills and greater confidence in dealing with foreign visitors. If backpackers became the marketing focus of Romania and were to be controlled through NGOs operating at the community level, there would also be fewer barriers preventing poor or marginalized Romanian ethnicities from participating in tourism. Additionally, the provision of government funding to these community-level NGOs could allow for local control of their tourism product.
Future research should be directed towards finding ways for local Romanians to achieve sustainable livelihoods through a diverse variety of informal employment opportunities. This paper noted how sustainable livelihoods are a challenge for Romanian communities because of contextual political factors and the dispersed nature of their communities. It would be interesting to know if the inclusion of post-Communist Romania in the European Union will allow for long-term, equitable financial benefits from tourism to be distributed amongst the local population. Stakeholders involved in Dracula tourism could also be analyzed through the lens of feminist or environmental concerns to evaluate the multi-faceted dimensions of this niche tourism type.
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