No matter the country of origin, each human being puts himself at some point in his life the 2 questions: Who am I? Where do I come from? While some are pleased with simple answers, some take the next level and develop an entire genealogical research process to learn as much as they can about their heritage. Together with professors from West University of Timisoara we did a research on genealogy in Romania. See below what we found.

The genealogy tourism is a small niche in tourism’s industry but giving it enough attention, it can really become beneficial both for the people in search for data about their ancestors and the country’s revenues from tourism.

Being aware that the genealogy tourism is a real phenomenon in many countries and also experiencing cases of people from foreign countries who came to Romania mainly to learn about their personal heritage we conducted a pilot study to see if the phenomenon is happening in Romania as well and to identify its particularities.

According to the study, Romania has a great potential for genealogy tourism as over time, significant waves of Romanian population immigrated towards countries such as USA, Canada, Germany or Israel and more recently to Western European countries.

The study showcases that “one of the most common ways a person uses to discover its origins is by traveling to and exploring the homeland in order to maintain and strengthen personal and emotional bonds”.  Therefore, in order to learn about their origins, people travel to places they or their ancestors originate and try to find as much information as they can.  Also, the unique experience they have while “stepping on the foot of their ancestors” is a major reason that triggers their desire to initiate genealogy trips.

The data was obtained by interviewing 6 persons of Romanian descent who traveled to Romania especially for genealogy and the objectives were to identify the genealogy tourist’s profile, its motivations for taking a genealogy trip, and the particularities of traveling. We also analyzed the genealogical research process and the experiences the tourists had while having a trip in the country of origin.

The background of the tourists was quite diverse, from Romanians and Swabs to Jews and Hungarians who lived in Romania, but then emigrated to countries like USA, Canada and Israel.  The study showed that the genealogical tourists are “usually elder persons, who have more leisure time” and a stable income.

Motivated to find their own identity in one hand, the tourists also traveled to be able to explore the family history right where it happened and to see the birthplace of their ancestors.

“The purpose of my travel was to visit the place where my father was born and see for myself the things he saw. When my father passed away, I felt a deep desire to reconnect to him somehow. I felt that sharing something he experienced might help me get a piece of him back. I was very interested in finding out as much information about my family and genealogy as I possibly could. I also wanted to find my father’s house and where he went to school and as many Church records as possible.” (D., 45y, USA)  

Besides finding interesting and sometimes surprising information about their ancestors, some of the tourists managed to find distant relatives they didn’t knew about and to meet with them as well.

In order to find information, the tourists wandered from city halls to churches and synagogues and also contacted professionals to help them with the research.

“I relied on a researcher to do the research for me. It would have been very difficult for me to find this info myself as I don’t speak Romanian.” (S., 56, Canada) 

As the study showed, the genealogy tourists “have a tendency to visit several destinations during their trip” as they might have family bonds in different parts of Romania. Also, they are “more involved in” than the regular tourists and they are “identifying themselves with the experience”.

Speaking of the experience, the tourists declared themselves very satisfied with the genealogical trip, as they accomplished to learn more about themselves by connecting to the land of their ancestors. But let’s let the tourists speak for themselves.

“I believe that even if we had not found information and met distant relatives it would have been worth the trip. Everyone we met, regardless of where we were, was friendly. The countryside is so beautiful and I felt like my heart had come home.” (A., 67y, USA)

“I felt connected, like I was home in a sense.” (J., 40y, USA)

“The experience absolutely gave me a feeling of fulfillment. I do not feel like I “belong”, but I also do not feel like an alien or stranger. The longing to see for myself where my father was born, went to school, played, hiked was fulfilled, and I have gained a sense of peace that I have seen with my own eyes what he once saw and that makes my soul happy. The countryside in Transylvania seems just as it was 70 years ago. It wasn’t too hard to imagine what life was like in 1949 when my father left. That’s the beauty of Romania. You can get a glimpse into when life was simpler and more pure.” (D., 45y, USA)

No matter what your story is, if you feel that you know little about your Romanian ancestors and you decide to travel to Romania to learn more, through the services we provide, we can plan a genealogy trip to the places your ancestors originate. Besides this, we will offer you all the support you need in the process of searching information.  Please check our genealogy tours to make an idea about the type of trips you could have in Romania.

Also, if you would like to access the case study we conducted and see a more detailed analysis, you can click here.

Author: Damaris Galati