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Starting from the constant controversy regarding the capitalization of Dracula’s myth, the paper analyses the place of Dracula tourism in the Romanian national policy and local destination management. The study focuses on two key Dracula destinations and highlights the main actors and strategies that have shaped their evolution as well as the main components of local heritage capitalized.
Lecturer PhD. Oana Mihaela STOLERIU1
1,2University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” of Iaşi, Romania
Starting from the constant controversy regarding the capitalization of Dracula’s myth,
the paper analyses the place of Dracula tourism in the Romanian national policy and
local destination management. The study focuses on two key Dracula destinations and
highlights the main actors and strategies that have shaped their evolution as well as the
main components of local heritage capitalized.
Keywords: Dracula tourism, heritage, destination management, Bran Castle, Hotel
Castle Dracula.
Supported by a prolific literature and cinematography, the increasing media fascination
for vampires and alternative worlds has constantly reinforced the association between
Romania and Bram Stoker’s character Count Dracula, transforming it into a perfect
instrument to gain fame and increase tourist flows. But this country image shaped by
literature and tourism industry contradicted internal national representations regarding
the historical figure of prince Vlad the Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker. Therefore,
the tourism capitalization of Dracula’s international notoriety has always been a
controversial topic in the Romanian political and academic environments, reproduced
by media and influencing internal perspectives. Since the first foreign visitors interested
in finding a Dracula castle in Romania during the 1970’s, national opinions and
strategies regarding Dracula tourism have been oscillating between defending the
historical truth or enjoying the economic benefits derived from the capitalization of a
foreign myth. National heritage and authenticity are two key issues constantly quoted in
every discussion regarding Dracula tourism: the myth is often perceived as a threat to
Romania’s international image [5] [4] and to the authentic Romanian tradition [2]. But,
in terms of tourist authenticity, the pseudotradition created by the mix of history and
fiction regarding Vlad the Impaler [2] builds visitor expectations and authentic tourist
experiences, thus explaining the increasing number of visitors coming to Romania every
year, in search of Dracula.
In this framework, the paper analyses multilevel approaches to the tourist capitalization
of Dracula’s myth in Romania, focusing on the main components of national heritage
emphasized in various strategies: fiction (myth) and reality (history). Two key Dracula
destinations were chosen as case studies: Bran Castle (BC) and Hotel Castle Dracula
(HCD). They both have similar geographical locations (in the North-Eastern and
Southern Carpathian Mountains, on two roads linking Transylvania to Southern or
Eastern Romania) and a complex local heritage (natural, historical, cultural and
mythical). Included in all the Dracula tours, these places have been progressively built
into representative Dracula destinations by public and then by private managers (after
1990 for HCD and since 2009, for BC). But, under the impact of external and local
decisions, following political and economic agendas, the two destinations have evolved
SGEM 2014 International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conferences on Social Sciences and Arts
differently in terms of popularity and tourist performance. Therefore, in both cases, we
analysed and compared the main actors and strategic documents framing the evolution
of these destinations and their approach to local heritage.
It is known that the destination image has a major role in shaping tourist representations
and behaviour. Or, the new romanticized version of vampires introduced by Bram
Stoker’s "Dracula" in 1897, has strongly influenced the literature and cinematography
of the 20th and 21th centuries, generating a major pop culture trend (started in the
1970’s) and a multimillion dollar vampire industry. Stoker’s novel was translated in
more than 25 languages [6] and the Dracula character appeared in more than 1000
books [4] and in more than 350 movie or TV productions and video games. Dracula also
inspired more than 4500 worldwide associations and fan clubs [4] and about 15.100.000
Google searches (in June 2014). Given the increasing media fascination with vampires,
Dracula tourism has progressively evolved from literary and film tourism [5], to a form
of media tourism [2] [9]. Motivated by complex information sources, visitors come to
Romania to see places connected to the fictional character [9], thus reproducing and
reinforcing a powerful place myth [6] built by Romania’s association with Dracula.
This fascination with the famous vampire has had echoes in academic and political
environments, generating controversy. Sociological and anthropological researches have
underlined the dual symbolism of Dracula’s character as: famous vampire in the Eastern
European folklore and iconic figure in Romania’s Middle Age history [1]. The novel’s
storyline and geopolitical context emphasized a specific (Western) perception of Eastern
Europe built by the travel literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries [1], as: a
magical, backward and timeless place [6], [3], an ‘in-between’ region [3] where the
civilized and rational Western society meets the Eastern superstitions and emotions.
The position of Romanian policy makers and cultural elites on the topic of Dracula
tourism has always oscillated between defending the historical truth together with
internal representations of nationhood or satisfying external expectations and benefiting
from Dracula’s international notoriety. The fear of a negative impact on Romania’s
country image generated dramatic changes in the official position of national authorities
[4], depending on their evolving internal and external political agendas (e.g. European
integration, internal power shifts). It all started with a dual attitude of the communist
regime during the 1970’s: on one hand reinforcing internal representations of the
historical figure of Vlad the Impaler, on the other hand, building a copy of Dracula’s
castle (HCD) from Stoker’s novel and cater for foreign visitors. After a period of
rejection (during the late 1980’s and in the 1990’s), the myth was reappropriated in
2001, when the Ministry of Tourism launched the famous Dracula Park project, and
again abandoned in 2005 (after the presidential elections). In 2012, the Employers’
Federation of Tourism and Services launched a Discover Dracula Tour, underlining
both history and legends linked to Dracula. All the international tourism promotion
campaigns developed by the Ministry of Tourism after 1990 included indirect but
constant references to Dracula’s myth [10]. Beyond this, each campaign reproduced the
same symbolic construction of Romania’s key destination features (and national
heritage), only differently weighted: Nature (represented by the Carpathian Mountains,
the Danube Delta and the Black Sea), History and Culture (associated with
castles/fortresses, churches and urban heritage) and Traditions (associated with Rural
life and presented as symbols of national authenticity) [10]. These heritage components
were used in our analysis of the two Dracula destinations. The issue of authenticity,
mentioned in all the media reviews following the tourism promotion campaigns, is one
of the main motives used against Dracula tourism. But, both sides of the heritage
capitalized by Dracula tourism (history and myth) can be as real and authentic in terms
of tourist authenticity [2], [8], shaping specific tourist representations and behaviour:
most of the Dracula tourists are motivated by the same desire to compare and connect
reality and imagination, usually by re-enactment of events [9], [6].
A sociological and cultural geographical approach was used to analyse the way Dracula
tourism and key national heritage components [10] were approached by multiple tourism
actors and strategies. Press releases and multilevel strategic documents were reviewed
in this aim: the Romanian Tourism Masterplan 2007-2026 [11], four regional
development plans (for 2007-2013, 2014-2020), a regional tourism plan and four local
sustainable development plans. BC and HCD are located in the communes of Bran and
Tiha Bargaului, in two different regions: Centre and North-West. Other perspectives of
local stakeholders were underlined using data (text and image) from specialized web
sites promoting the two destinations: the owners and the local administration’s websites,
online inventories of local firms and events or major international travel websites
(, and, all consulted in June 2014)
etc. This was completed with field observations and discussions with local stakeholders
in 2012 and 2013.
Despite the recognition of Dracula brand as one of Romania’s tourism strengths, the
National Tourism Masterplan for 2007-2026 explicitly rejects the idea of a Dracula
themed park because of its negative impact on “superior categories” of tourists [11] and
proposes the alternative of a park capitalizing Romanian Traditions. Apart the business
and spa tourism, the Masterplan underlines the necessity to develop tourist products
emphasizing Romania’s Rural (Traditions), Natural (the Black Sea, the Danube and the
Carpathians) and Cultural (urban and historical) heritage. HCD is not mentioned at all
in the document, while BC is mentioned 3 times: once as Dracula’s castle and twice as a
destination fitted for a complex (Cultural and Natural) Transylvanian tourist route. At
regional level, the two Development Plans for Centre Region (2007-2013 and 2014-
2020 [12]) re-confirm Dracula’s role in the international notoriety of BC but they both
focus on the capitalization of the Cultural and Historical local heritage (Rural
Traditions included and ranked first after 2013), followed by Nature (the Carpathians).
Both plans underline the incorrect association between Dracula and BC and describe
Bran village as a representative cultural (Historical) and agritourist destination, with an
old pastoral tradition. A similar perspective is revealed by the two Regional
Development Plans for North-West Region [13]: the same heritage components
(Culture and History, including Rural Traditions, followed by Nature the
Carpathians) were emphasized in their development priorities and similarly ranked.
There were only two vague recommendations for the creation of a Dracula Land Park
near HCD in the 2007-2013 plan (not implemented), and for a better capitalization of
the myth, in 2013. Local development plans largely reproduce the regional approaches
to local tourism assets: for Bran, the strategy focuses on a better capitalization of
SGEM 2014 International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conferences on Social Sciences and Arts
Natural attractions (through leisure and sports activities) and local Traditions (through
agritourism), while for Tiha Birgaului it underlines the Culture and History themes
(capitalized through rural tourism and cultural tourist routes), followed by Nature
(mountains) and Rural Traditions. In 2013, the private actors behind the new plan for
Tiha Bargaului proposed a more integrated (trans-regional) approach to tourism
development, including the Dracula tradition (foreign and local myths), even if ranked
after Nature (capitalized through leisure and mountain sports), History and Culture (e.g.
a Roman route) and Rural Traditions (ethnographic museum and tours). During the last
3 years, the local public investments framed by these plans were mainly oriented
towards the improvement of tourist infrastructure (mainly transports). A major project
aimed to promote local traditions as an alternative to BC has been implemented by the
local council of Bran in partnership with other stakeholders. The project materialized
into an increasing number of traditional festivals (up to 10, in 2013) and 3 public
websites promoting local traditions. Rural tourism and the promotion of local traditions
are also priorities of other future projects envisaged in another development plan
implemented by a Local Action Group and including the territory of Bran commune [7].
Overall, despite the common acknowledgement of its major role in the international
fame of both destinations, Dracula’s myth is carefully avoided in public strategies: it
appears only 11 times in the Masterplan and about twice in regional or local plans.
These strategies reproduce the same perception of national (tourist) authenticity:
associated with original (historically accurate, well preserved) objects or places, hence
the focus on rural life, rural traditions, historical heritage and natural landscapes.
As for the online destination image communicated by local administrations, this
reproduces the same perception of local heritage, indicating also their involvement in
the tourism development. Thus, 4 public websites present the local heritage of Bran in
Romanian and English: they all mention Bran Castle (for old Myths), together with local
Traditions (ethnographic museum and local festivals), History (linked to the royal
family), Culture (churches) and Natural (mountains) heritage. At the opposite, the
website of Tiha Birgaului commune does not mention tourism or Dracula’s myth at all.
The place management has had a major role in shaping the evolution of both Dracula
attractions and the way they’ve been perceived and consumed by various categories of
users. In both cases, the association with Dracula’s myth was the result of centralized
decisions made during the 1970’s and endorsed by economic and political agendas.
Inaugurated in 1983, HCD represents the first initiative of the communist regime to
cater for Dracula fans by building a hotel exclusively based on Stoker’s novel
(respecting the location and architecture described in the book). With no real link to
either the novel or the historical character that inspired it, BCs association with Dracula
was also decided by the communist regime, based on pragmatic reasons such as: the
proximity to Bucharest and major tourist facilities (compared to a more isolated
Poienari fortress, the real castle of Vlad the Impaler) and the historical heritage able to
build stronger tourist perceptions of authenticity (compared to HCD) [4]. After 1990,
the private management enhanced the differences in the tourist discourse and experience
provided by the two attractions. The new managers of HCD continued the capitalization
of Dracula’s myth by targeting a specialized clientele of Dracula fans. The visitor
expectations shaped by the hotel website and logo as well as the in place experiences
are built on references to the literary myth, reproduced and reinforced by: the themed
decoration (e.g. Mina Harker’s room), Stoker’s statue in front of HCD, visitor
entertainment (the dungeons tour, the Transylvanian passport), themed souvenirs, meals
and events (the Halloween night) as well as future projects (a Dracula spa). Local
traditions and natural heritage are partly capitalized in the restaurant meals and their
beautiful mountain views and in secondary attractions recently diversifying the hotel
offer (a tourist sheepfold and a nearby ski slide). In the case of BC, its private owners
(the royal family’ heirs) reopened the castle in 2009 with a strategy focused on
emphasizing the place history. Afterwards, their strategy was diversified and adjusted to
the visitors’ interest in Dracula’s myth. This generated dual tourist discourses and
experiences, backed up by a confusing mix of contradictory fictional and historical
references communicated through: the castle decoration, the tour guides’ speeches, local
souvenirs and events. These are all emphasizing first historical characters and events,
while the references to Dracula are scarce and usually presented in opposition to their
historical counterpart. Apart the annual Halloween party, the myth is reproduced only
within a small room (with a few posters) and in the tour guides speeches, both
underlining the incorrect association between Dracula, Vlad the Impaler and BC. Future
development projects continue to focus on history: e.g. reopening the royal Tea House.
Before the in place experience, the visitor motivations and behaviour are shaped by the
place image built and sold through various promotion strategies. The official websites
of HCD and BC have a major role in building a destination image according to the
owners’ perspective on local heritage and their targeted customers. Thus, the text on
BC’s website [14] emphasizes the Historical heritage (royal and medieval), including
clarifications on the historical inaccuracies of Dracula’s myth, while the images posted
underline first the mountain landscapes (Nature), then the historical and mythical
attractions. As expected, the references to Dracula’s myth dominate both text and
photos (and animation) on HCD website, landscapes (Nature) descriptions included.
The place logos reproduce the same destination features communicated by their
websites: Dracula’s myth for HCD (a dragon and a “D”) or the historical and
architectural value for BC (a castle tower). On the other hand, international media
played a major role in the increasing popularity of BC (compared to HCD) and
reinforcing its association with Dracula’s myth. Included in various international tops,
BC was ranked: first in the World’s Spookiest Spots (by Forbes Magazine, in October
2007); 10th, in the World's 10 Scariest Haunted Castles (by Dailymail, in June 2012), 9th
in the World’s Scariest Halloween Destinations (by Dailymail, in October 2012) and the
second most expensive real estate in the world or the first in Europe (by Forbes
Magazine, in June 2012). At national level, the castle remains the most visited
Romanian museum, with about half million visitors per year.
Meant to lure and entertain tourists, local events are another tool used by multiple
stakeholders to build destination image. In this regard, about 70 % of the events
organized by BC since 2009 have targeted cultural tourists with: music concerts (about
40 % and mostly jazz), open museum nights or books launches. The castle is also
involved in other local events, such as the traditional festivals initiated by the local
council and various associations. It also caters for corporate and private customers,
hosting workshops and private events. The local offer is completed with the events
organized by other local and external actors and emphasizing the place history (e.g.
medieval festivals, cultural performances), the natural heritage (various competitions) or
Dracula’s fame (e.g. Halloween parties, Dracula Business Camp). Excepting a horror
exhibit and a couple of books launches, Dracula’s association with BC is mostly
SGEM 2014 International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conferences on Social Sciences and Arts
capitalized through the annual Halloween party, both a BC as well as in local clubs,
cafes or guest houses. At BC, the event was not diversified much since 2009: the
masquerade party, a Vlad the Impaler impersonation offering a night tour of the castle
and dungeon, themed beverages (wine and black vodka), a dance of the Forest Fairies
(since 2010), a bonfire (since 2010) and occasional guests (e.g. Nicolas Cage in 2010).
On the contrary, apart the New Years Eve party, Halloween is the main event
organized by HCD, catering for both Romanian and foreign tourists (initially with two
separated events) and diversified every year: e.g. the Witches Ball (in 2010) and Trial
(2012), bus transport from Bistrita city (2011), night rides in Dracula’s carriage (2013),
live concerts (2013), various competitions, themed meals and beverages. The only other
local event capitalizing Dracula’s myth as well as local traditions was the Garlic
Festival, organized by a tourist association and public stakeholders in September 2013.
The residents’ internalization level of Dracula’s myth and their perspective on the key
local assets is indicated by the evolution of local economy and private investments. In
Bran, the number of private firms developed faster after 1990, with several peaks
depending on the economic and political context: in the early 1990’s (15 %, mainly
small commerce), after the Dracula park project launch (about 21.5 %, mostly
accommodation and transport services), prior the economic crisis (supported also by
infrastructure projects developed with European funds) and, recently, with new tourist-
oriented services (e.g. event planning, tourist management, financial consultancy).
There is a similar evolution pattern for Tiha Bargaului, only with smaller numbers and a
different profile: most of local businesses were initiated in the early 1990’s (19.5 %,
with wood exploitation and commerce dominating until 2005) and after 2004 (75 %,
mainly transport and construction activities). Thus, the economic profile in 2013 was
very different: in Tiha Bargaului it was mostly based on the exploitation of natural
resources (wood exploitation - 13.89% of local firms, industry - 2.6 %) and
infrastructure development (constructions and transport 27%), while the weight of
visitor-catering services was low: 2.8% restaurants and bars, 2.8% accommodation and
36.11 % commerce. This poor palette of tourist services mostly capitalizes the mountain
location (a sky slope) and local traditions (a tourist sheepfold). In Bran there was a more
tourist-oriented economy with: 21.5 % accommodation firms, 5 % restaurants and bars
and 16.5 % commerce. Tourist services and facilities in Bran are mostly capitalizing
local traditions (restaurants, an ethnographical museum) and history (Bran Customs
Museum), together with Dracula’s myth (e.g. a horror house, small shops and cafes),
mainly around Halloween. In both locations, there are small markets selling traditional
and Dracula themed souvenirs, more developed in the case of BC: 3 commercial nuclei
with more than 60 stalls, compared to about 10 stalls at HCD.
The evolution of tourist accommodation services reveals other significant differences: in
Tiha Birgaului the number of accommodation units remained the same (with HCD and
an agritourist guest house that replaced a chalet in 2010) but their size reduction
decreased the accommodation capacity with 13 % between 1991 and 2013 (up to153
places). At the opposite, the accommodation capacity in Bran increased more than 15
times between 1991 and 2013 (up to 2450 places and 116 accommodation units), with
two peaks following the launch of Dracula Park Project and Romania’s inclusion in the
European Union. New private facilities with smaller size (63.40 % were rural and
agritourist guest houses, in 2013) replaced the larger public facilities (e.g. school
camps). The evolution of tourist arrivals enhances the differences between the two
communes: from 8486 arrivals, in 2001, Tiha Bargaului lost its upper rank, registering a
40 % decrease until 2013. In the same period, tourist arrivals in Bran increased from
only 6130 in 2001, to 54139 in 2013 (with a few peaks after 2003, 2007 and after the
management change in 2009). The names of the accommodation units indicate a poor
capitalization of Dracula’s myth: only a few units in Bran (Vampire camp and Count
Vladimir), compared to those with names evoking the mountain landscape (about 12
%), the place history (7.74 %) or traditions (1.5%). Apart HCD, in Tiha Bargaului there
is one guest house with historical references (“Romans’ route”).
These different approaches to destination management are reflected by the image and
popularity of HCD and BC on major international travel websites with a strong impact
on building tourist expectations. In June 2014, Romania’s presentation on mentioned BC and Dracula’s myth as landmarks for two main
country features: BC for History and Dracula for Folkore and Superstitions. The Lonely
Planet review of BC emphasized again the historical heritage, reinforced by the castle’s
inclusion in 5 recommended tours (one cultural and historical, 2 Halloween related and
2 mixing natural and cultural attractions) and its association with another historical
attraction (Bran Customs museum). At the opposite, HCD is registered only as an
accommodation unit, with an owners’ description focused on natural heritage (mountain
location) and hotel amenities. On, BC (also named “Dracula’s castle”
and rated with 4 of 5 stars) is the subject of 838 reviews and 831 photos. On the same
site, there are only 26 photos and 32 reviews rating HCD with 3 of 5 stars and
appreciating the location as the best quality. HCD is more popular and higher rated on, with 7.9 from 10 points from 78 reviews. The location remains the best
quality (8.6 points), followed by staff (8.3) and cleanliness (8.1).
The two Dracula destinations are the result of complex political and economic decisions
capitalizing a similar local heritage, only with different priorities and local impact. In
both cases, the public administration reproduced at different levels the same perception
of the key features representing Romania’s national heritage and authenticity: all the
strategies focus on the promotion of reality (and historically accurate heritage as well as
rural traditions) over myth, of BC over HCD. Even if they all benefit from Dracula’s
fame, local managers have very different tourism strategies: HCD keeps capitalizing the
Dracula tradition, catering mostly for a specialized clientele, while BC’s managers have
diversified their approach and customers, with cultural tourists clearly exceeding the
Dracula fans. Despite the resulting dual messages and place image, BC keeps benefiting
from: a higher international popularity on international media and major travel websites;
a better tourist status and offer (as a complex tourist attraction, compared to HCD,
mainly known only as a hotel), a higher accessibility and concentration of tourist
attractions and facilities as well as a stronger support from other public or private
stakeholders initiatives. This explains the faster and more powerful impact on the local
economy (more visitor-oriented) and tourist flows.
Overall, the permanent oscillations of national policy-makers on the topic of Dracula
tourism, national heritage and authenticity is reproduced at local level through: the
mixed and confusing tourist promotion and interpretation provided by Bran Castle or
the parallel strategies and discourses of local stakeholders (public administration, hotel
managers, residents), in the case of HCD. The impact of these management and
SGEM 2014 International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conferences on Social Sciences and Arts
communication strategies on the visitors’ expectations and in place experiences will be
the topic of future studies.
This work was supported by the strategic grant POSDRU/159/1.5/S/133391, Project
Doctoral and Post-doctoral programs of excellence for highly qualified human
resources training for research in the field of Life sciences, Environment and Earth
Science” cofinanced by the European Social Fund within the Sectorial Operational
Program Human Resources Development 2007 2013.
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... This contradiction has generated controversy and dual attitudes regarding the Dracula myth among Romanian tourism authorities, academics and general population (Banyai, 2010). While some voices defend the economic benefits of capitalizing the tourists' fascination with fictional vampire stories, others advocate for historical authenticity, considering Dracula a negative brand for Romania, hence the national rejection of Dracula-inspired tourism (Kaneva & Popescu, 2011;Reijnders, 2011;Stoleriu & Ibanescu, 2014). ...
... This dichotomy was underlined in various dimensions regarding Romanian tourism development: interviews with tourism actors (Light, 2007), strategic national documents and initiatives of local administrations (Light, 2007;Stoleriu & Ibanescu, 2014), national promotional campaigns (Kaneva & Popescu, 2011;Stoleriu & Ibanescu, 2015), web pages of travel agencies (Hovi, 2014;Stoleriu, 2014), visitors' reviews (Lupu et al., 2017), blogs and opinions of local residents (Banyai, 2010), tourist behavior (Light, 2009). In time, these circumstances generated a lack of unitary strategies and efficient cooperation among tourism actors for a successful capitalization of the Dracula brand. ...
Full-text available
During the last decades, the tourism market saw the growth of national and regional brands based on characters and places promoted through movies and TV series. One of the most notorious tourism brands based on fictional works is represented by Dracula. With a constantly expanding coverage on entertainment channels, Dracula became widely popular and strongly associated with Romania. However, its capitalization by national tourism actors lacks synergy and integration of spatial features. In this paper, we use an original cartographic approach combining the spatial distribution of Dracula attractions and online data regarding tourist behavior aimed to set up a decision-making toolkit for the enhancement of brand management. The results confirm the existence of a spatial pattern in the distribution and differentiation of Dracula attractions, which affects the overall tourist behavior and satisfaction. The paper provides several recommendations for national actors in order to upgrade the tourism management of Dracula's image.
... Even though Romania has adopted a national strategy for sustainable development by 2030 [86], little attention has been paid to the positive role of tourism activities in rural areas, with tourism not included on the main agenda of national, regional and local authorities in recent years [72,80,87,88]. ...
Full-text available
Rural tourism, defined as a form of local initiative tourism, has at its forefront the involvement of the local community, who contribute significantly to the affirmation and promotion of this type of tourism. In order to be able to speak of the practice of this type of tourism in a given geographical area, it is first necessary to highlight the existence of a tourist heritage, both natural and anthropic, which identifies itself with the authentic character of the area, satisfying the need of the tourist to discover activities and tourist attractions with local specificity. The purpose of this research is to investigate the role of socio-economic and cultural aspects in the sustainable development of tourism in the Gurghiului Valley. The present study also aims to highlight the role of local entrepreneurs in the process of economic development in the area by means of new practices and sustainable approaches; this is based on efficient capitalization of the natural and anthropic tourism heritage of the area, defined by elements of authenticity. The methodology applied in this work is based on the study of specialized literature, along with case study on tourist activity in rural tourism. The research carried out is based on analysis of data from official sources of tourist data (the National Tourism Agency (hereafter NTA) and the National Institute of Statistics (hereafter NIS)), as well as research carried out in the field to see if there are discrepancies between what these two aforementioned official sources provide and the reality on the ground. Our research finally revealed the fact that Gurghiului Valley officially entered into the tourist landscape in 1990 through the lens of the Lăpușna student and preschool camp, and rural tourism has been organized in the study area since 2005. At the same time, research has shown that there is currently a need for much greater involvement and awareness both from local authorities and the resident population regarding the importance of rural tourism in the social and economic evolution of the local community.
... Il patrimonio storico del castello e la vicinanza a Bucarest, unitamente al proliferare nei dintorni strutture turistiche, spinsero il regime comunista a ben tollerare l'associazione del Castello con il mito del Conte Dracula. Da allora, il costrutto sociale della residenza di Dracula è stato supportato da narrazioni turistiche, riprodotte a livello nazionale e locale (Stoleriu & Ibanescu, 2015). ...
The article aims to analyze the change that has taken place in the promotion of one of the most important and well-known cultural heritage in Romania, the Bran Castle, thanks to social networks. They are very important marketing tools for visibility and by power of positioning in the tourism market. Google Trends compares the interest shown by people in relation to the different destinations in Romania, and more specifically in relation to Bran Castle, the Transylvania region and the "Count Dracula". The results show that this tool can contribute to the knowledge of people's interest in relation to the tourist destinations. Nvivo's content analysis is also applied to investigate the cultural and tourist promotion that Bran Castle plans in its strategy. All this information is very useful for Destination Management Organization (DMO). The analysis of the data existing on social networks confirms the popularity of the myth of Dracula and its association with the image of the country, but we believe that Romania must wisely address this apparent negative stereotype and adopt a strategy of correct positioning of the Dracula symbol.
... Moreover, the generalization of the findings could only be done when a similar approach is carried out across countries or locations with a similar spread of sites and having at least a few comparable attributes. Note 1. Romania's masterplan for 2007-2026(RMRDT, 2007 highlights the main national tourism attractions and the latest national tourism promotion campaign has also focused on natural resources (the Carpathians and the Danube Delta), rural life, spa resorts, churches, and castles (Stoleriu & Ibanescu, 2014). ...
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Romania has a significant number of UNESCO listed heritage sites but comparatively negligible tourist inflow. The information seeking behavior and variety seeking behavior of tourists among various types of heritage sites in Romania and associated attributes were explored from TripAdvisor website and from other online as well as offline resources. To enhance Romania tourism, the travelers’ choice of heritage sites were clustered using K-mean clustering technique. Five clusters were proposed based on heritage sites attributes significantly influencing tourist choice of visiting the site decisions. Subsequently, a conjoint choice model is used to understand the role of heritage sites location along with their attributes and peripheral attractions that influences the choice of tourists. This study proposes strategies to the policymakers and tour operators to enhance Romanian tourism potential.. Findings of this study suggests that trips with low travel time and cost encourage the tourist decision. Policymakers should also develop peripheral attractions in most of the UNESCO heritage sites which are remotely located. In addition, peripheral locations should promote the local culture and products with enhanced quality so as to attract more international as well as national travelers. Potential strategies to enhance tourism to Romania’s various types of heritage sites like religious, castles, monuments and statues, historic, nature, and parks have also been proposed.
... Legend narratives can attach to sites such that a 'myth or a story as a stimulus introduces a place and creates its collective public identity' (Gao et al., 2012, p. 208;Park, 2010), being more or less salient depending on the individual (Bajc, 2006;Busby & Laviolette, 2006). Anchoring of legend with place is evident in other fantastical narratives, notably Dracula (Huebner, 2011;Light, 2007;Stoleriu & Ibanescu, 2014), Shangri-La (Gao et al., 2012), and Robin Hood (Everett & John Parakoottathil, 2018;Lyth, 2006). In all cases, a legend's association with a place is perpetuated and concretised by tourist boards, heritage sites, popular culture, and tourists themselves, including on social media. ...
Previous research (Orange & Laviolette [2010] A disgruntled tourist in King Arthur’s court: Archaeology and identity at Tintagel, Cornwall. Public Archaeology, 9(2), 85–107; Robb [1998] Tourism and legends: Archaeology of heritage. Annals of Tourism Research, 25(3), 579–596) has described the interpretative tension at Tintagel Castle between history and Arthurian legend; since these articles were written, a sculpture that English Heritage says is ‘inspired by the legend of King Arthur, by the historic kings and royal figures associated with Tintagel,’ and a carving of Merlin’s face have been added to the site. Using discourse analysis of TripAdvisor reviews, this article explores how legend and history are experienced by visitors. Despite an ‘inextricable’ link with Arthur, his actual absence here in both physical and narrative realms equals an absence of imaginative stimulus, for which the statue, while enabling superficial physical interaction, cannot compensate. Likewise, many reviewers see the mediaeval remains not as a presence of ruins but an absence of castle, and are similarly uninspired to transport themselves into a historical narrative. It is only reviewers inspired by history who engage the ruins as a ‘thing’ whose imaginations immerse them in their visit.
... As regards Romania, little attention has been paid to the positive role of tourism activities in rural areas, given that this form of tourism did not represent the main concern of national and regional authorities [48,75,76], despite the fact that there is a national strategy for sustainable development until 2030. Rather, NGOs are showing an active role, although their presence is mainly local and most of their activity does not directly focus on the sustainability of rural tourism: ADEPT Transylvania is a foundation dedicated to biodiversity conservation and rural development, Harta Verde (Green Map) Romania is promoting sustainable capitalization of natural heritage of the Bistrita County, while ANTREC, a national association, supports the potential of rural tourism, it is organizing tourist promotion campaigns and it also represents Romanian tourist entrepreneurs to national and international tourist events. ...
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Rural tourism has been seen during the last decades as a means for economic development of sensitive localities, especially in rural areas. However, little research has been conducted on the sustainability of the development induced by tourism activities in rural areas, and even so, with contradictory results. Our paper investigated how tourism impacted on the sustainable development of rural localities, focusing on three composite indexes: demographic stability, public utilities, and socio-economic sustainability. Mann–Whitney U test was used to determine the differences on each of the above-mentioned indexes between the rural localities with tourist arrivals and those without. The results showed that there is a significant positive effect of tourism on rural areas translated into higher values of all the indexes analyzed. This study brings valuable contributions to both academics and policy-makers: on one hand, it provides new insights into the impact of tourism activities; on the other hand, it offers valuable information to decisional actors regarding development strategies. Full text at :
Conference Paper
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The paper is a critical review of the national imaginary communicated through video tourism campaigns promoting Romania as an international destination after 1989. Despite the efforts to rebrand and reposition Romania within the global tourism market, most of the tourism campaigns tend to reproduce old national stereotypes and practices: the same national imaginary was reapproached in different tourism spots, reinforcing old geographical and historical representations built by school books and media discourses. Together with the tourism promoters’ oscillations between internal and external expectations, between economic and political agendas, these campaigns achieved an overall poor and indistinctive country image.
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Large numbers of tourists travel to Transylvania every year, looking for traces of Count Dracula. This article investigates why people feel the need to connect fictional stories, such as Dracula, with identifiable physical locations, and why they subsequently want to visit these locations. Based on field work, it is concluded that the experience of the Dracula tourist is characterised by a dynamic between two partially contradictory modes. First, Dracula tourists are driven by a desire to make a concrete comparison between the landscape they are visiting and their mental image. On the other hand, this rational approach to trace reality is contrasted with a more intuitive, emotional desire for a temporary symbiosis of both worlds.
In this article, I examine the use of folklore and heritage in the context of Dracula tourism in Romania. I will approach this issue by using the concepts of authenticity and stereotypes. I will also employ the concept of folklore process as coined by Lauri Honko to better define the use of tradition in relation to folklorism and authenticity. My main argument is that tourism may, in fact, construct and affirm heritage and tradition of which folklore is a part. This of course is not a new approach, as tradition has been used in tourism and travel in many ways for a long time, including, for example, in pilgrimages.
This article discusses the uses of the concept of authenticity in tourism studies. In line with the constructivist perspective which aims to transcend the binary distinction between the authentic and inauthentic as found in the concept of authenticity, it is suggested that this binary dichotomy also has to be overcome in the approaches to the tourist role. If authenticity can be linked to an experience of collective identifications made by the individual, the point can be made that insights from studies of ritual and social performances will be fertile in analysing how such experiences are constituted in social processes. This processual approach may then reveal how authenticity is influenced by subjective and collective views on consensus, creativity and existentialism in the tourist role.
The state plays an important role in tourism development, in planning and policymaking, and also as the arbiter of cultural meanings. States choose to encourage forms of tourism that are consistent with their cultural and political identities. But they may have to contend with forms of demand that are beyond their control. ‘‘Dracula tourism’’ in Romania is one example. Founded on a place myth of Transylvania as the home of the supernatural, this activity is discordant with Romania’s self-image and the way it wishes to present itself to the wider world. This paper examines the way the Romanian state has managed and negotiated such tourism, in both socialist and post-socialist contexts.
In recent years there has been increasing attention on tourism as a form of performance. Moreover, some recent work has focused on the role of tourist performances in the making (and remaking) of tourist places. This article explores these issues with reference to Transylvania, Romania, through ethnographic fieldwork with a group of Western tourists visiting Transylvania for Halloween. It was clear that, for these tourists, their visit to Transylvania was firmly grounded in what they brought with them from their home cultures. In particular, the whole visit was circumscribed by an enduring place-myth of Transylvania as the home of Dracula and vampires. During their holiday, these tourists enthusiastically engaged with this myth through fantasy, imagination-work and embodied play. Thus, these tourists were not simply encountering Transylvania – instead they were performing a Transylvania as they imagined it to be. In doing so, they were actively reconstituting the Transylvania place myth.
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