Place, people and interpretation: issues of migrant labour and tourism imagery in Ireland

Baum, T. and Hearns, N. and Devine, P.F. (2007) Place, people and interpretation: issues of migrant labour and tourism imagery in Ireland. Tourism Recreation Research, 32 (3). pp. 39-48. ISSN 0250-8281

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This paper addresses the contribution of tourism's workforce to destination image and branding and considers the role that employees play in visitors' interpretation of their experience of place. The focus of this paper is on the contribution of working people to the image of place and the potential for contradiction in imagery as the people who inhabit and work within a place change over time. At the same time, those consuming the place as visitors may well have expectations that are fixed in traditional and outdated imagery. The location of this paper is Ireland where the traditional marketing of the tourism brand has given core roles to images of people and the friendliness of Irish hospitality, represented by traditional and homogeneous images. Interpretation of Ireland as a destination, in the tourist literature, by tour guides and within the cultural heritage sector generally, has widely perpetuated these traditional and, arguably, clichéd images. Recent growth in the "Celtic tiger" economy has induced unprecedented and large scale migration from countries across the globe to Ireland, particularly into the tourism sector. This paper raises questions with regard to interpretation and branding of a country as a tourist destination in the light of major changes within the demography and ethnicity of its tourism workforce.