The Dracula Dilemma Tourism, Identity and the State in Romania
For many in the West, Romania is synonymous with Count Dracula. Since the publication of Bram Stoker's famous novel in 1897 Transylvania (and by extension, Romania) has become inseparable in the Western imagination with Dracula, vampires and the supernatural. Moreover, since the late 1960s Western tourists have travelled to Transylvania on their own searches for the literary and supernatural roots of the Dracula myth. Such 'Dracula tourism' presents Romania with a dilemma. On one hand, Dracula is Romania's unique selling point and has considerable potential to be exploited for economic gain. On the other hand, the whole notion of vampires and the supernatural is starkly at odds with Romania's self-image as a modern, developed, European state. This book examines the way that Romania has negotiated Dracula tourism over the past four decades. During the communist period (up to 1989) the Romanian state did almost nothing to encourage such tourism but reluctantly tolerated it. However, some discrete local initiatives were developed to cater for Dracula enthusiasts that operated at the margins of legality in a communist state. In the post-communist period (after 1989) any attempt to censor Dracula has disappeared and the private sector in Romania has been swift to exploit the commercial possibilities of the Count. However, the Romanian state remains ambivalent about Dracula and continues to be reluctant to encourage or promote Dracula tourism. As such Romania's dilemma with Dracula remains unresolved.
'Mention Romania, or Transylvania, and the first name that often comes in response is Dracula. For many Romanians the association is not entirely welcome and yet the Romanian state has cultivated it to promote tourism. Duncan Light's engaging study explores this apparent contradiction, regarding tourism at the same time both as a cultural activity as well as a business undertaking.' Dennis Deletant, Georgetown University, USA and Emeritus Professor, University College, London, UK 'A superb analysis in lucid prose of Romania's unique dilemma: how to benefit from Dracula tourism without denigrating its own history and sense of identity. Examining both the communist and post-communist periods, Duncan Light methodically works through the challenges, ranging from the benefits of literary tourism to the failure of a proposed Dracula theme park.' Elizabeth Miller, Professor Emeritus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, www.blooferland.com/drc (Dracula Research Centre) 'Light provides a thorough and entertaining account of the various Dracula/Impaler myths and their manifestations in popular culture, academia and Romanian communist-nationalist historiography... At present, we have few historically wide-ranging accounts of the effects of literary tourism, and this is a great example of what might be done with a case study in terms of conceptualising the complex interplay of national identity, tourism and culture. The Dracula Dilemma, though, also demonstrates - notwithstanding the unique quality of the phenomenon - how such an approach can enrich and complicate our understanding of tourism itself.' Times Higher Education 'This is possibly the most thorough investigation of Dracula tourism ever written... The book is factually dense without being cumbersome to the credit of both the protagonist and author... Dracula Park, is a highlight of the book... Light, in great detail, takes us through the history of the project... ' Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change