|Title||Post-communist capital city tourism representation: a case-study on Bucharest|
The focus of the project is on the tourism representations of Central and Eastern European post-communist capital cities and the process of representation. Drawing from a number of academic fields such as urban tourism, culture, marketing, and media, as well as original primary and secondary research, the study wishes to contribute to existing debates on tourism representations and post-communist Central and Eastern European city tourism. Bucharest is the case-study. The project adopts a multi-method qualitative approach in line with the social-constructivist paradigm. Analysis of findings employs NVivo8 content analysis programme.
Findings reflect on the thin line between representation producers and consumers and on the cyclical nature of the representation process. Bucharest representations are dominated by stereotypical images of the destination, both on the projected and perceived side. There is a strong overlap between the representations and images of Romania and of its capital.
Disagreements exist between the projected tourism representations of tourism government, tourism industry, and tourism media, and how tourists and potential tourists perceive the city and its projected representations. The tourism representations projected by Bucharest representation-makers are determined by an ongoing process of self-rediscovery and reaffirmation of a European identity. Bucharest’s projected tourism representations are strongly affected by politics, transition and change. They are unstable and adapted to satisfy new political wills and urban regimes. On the other hand, tourists and potential tourists are attracted by the distinctiveness of the city, by its ‘Eastern’ characteristics, and by the change from communism to democracy. While tourist testimonials seem to be strongly influenced by tourism media destination representations, especially guidebooks, potential tourists perceive projected destination representations as unappealing and creating false expectations.