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Genealogical Tourism - A New Baby Boomer Phenomenon

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Prepared by: Lamar Ross
Word Count: 574 (approx.)
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The "baby boomer" generation is in some ways redefining travel. Increasingly, members of this population are finding international travel and specialty niche traveling to be both enjoyable and educational. One of these growing areas of tourism is genealogical tourism, which includes both domestic and international tours.

As an amateur genealogist of more than forty years I can well understand the phenomenon. Amateurs usually begin their initial interest in genealogy and family history for a specific reason. They may just be interested in a specific "colorful" ancestor they have heard of, or may think they descend from royalty. Whatever the reason, they have developed a "why" that leads them to want to know "how".

Over time they develop the desire to not only know about their ancestors, but to visit the locales in which they resided. This desire for a connection with their past drives them to finally plan the trips that establishes contact geographically with their history.

I grew up in North Georgia, but my paternal ancestors had come from the southeastern area of Ohio to Alabama and Georgia after six or seven generations there. I later found out through further research and gathering information from local periodicals that they had also spent five to six years living in Indiana before making the final move by horse and buggy to the South. To find out that this Southerner was part Northerner was a shocker. We had relatives fighting on both sides of the civil war. This was part of my enlightenment.

Over two decades ago, I made a trip to their ancestral residence area in Ohio, viewed the countryside, and looked up documents in the local genealogical society libraries that had references to and stories about some of my ancestors. So I guess without even knowing it, I was part of the early development of genealogical tourism. It is such visits that add to a person's psychological connection with his or her past.

Tourist agencies are now capitalizing on this interest by planning itineraries that incorporate genealogical research into the genealogist's travel plans. Numerous tour groups are put together each year to visit the ancestral homes of Surname groups. My own Ross surname originated in the northern part of Scotland, and although I have not participated yet, I am aware of numerous tour groups that have been planned for members who share the Ross surname.

Likewise, numerous genealogical societies are offering their members the opportunity to do research while visiting major genealogical repositories of information. The Mormons have developed what is probably the most comprehensive collection of genealogical records in existence. These records, housed in Salt Lake City, Utah, form the basis for numerous genealogical tourism events in the city.

This developing phenomenon is beneficial both to the tourist and the tourism industry. The tourism industry has a new niche in which to specialize, and as they develop this specialization, they provide the opportunity for more genealogists to geographically connect with their past. It is a win-win situation.

Dr. Lamar Ross has a special interest in training individuals for expatriate living and providing information on unique travel destinations. He is an author, educator, photographer, internet entrepreneur, and international traveler. He has lived in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India and has traveled extensively in 29 different countries. He speaks both English and Spanish fluently and has a basic ability in several other languages. For more information on expatriate living, check out the blog Expatriate Traveler Notes.

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