6th Issue, January 2010

Promoting National Identity Internationally

Cultural diversity as well as natural beauties are very well reflected in texts for tourists going to Croatia, Cyprus and Poland. These texts are published in several languages and there seems to be a trend to add new languages to the existing offer. Tourism boards seem to adjust the languages they use according to the increase of certain tourist groups.

The Cyprus tourism material suggests a discourse of inclusion of all Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish; so the promotional brochures continually refer to the island and the people as a whole. Rarely is the division between north and south mentioned. When it is mentioned, the northern area is consistently referred to as the northern part. This successive and consistent use of the phrase suggests a discursive insistence on the totality of the island, and an intentional effort by the Cyprus Tourism Organization to present a viewpoint in consonance with the party line in the Republic of Cyprus.


Tourism promotion has changed
In Croatia, there has been a considerable change in tourism promotion since the 1990s. One of the aspects that have been present after Croatia had become an independent state was the negative image of being a Balkan country thus the first aim was to make a distance to any notion of Balkan-ness. In 2009, on the other hand, the promotional campaign of the Croatian Tourism Board in Serbia (billboards depicting Croatian Adriatic scenery along with the slogans So close, and so beautiful and When your heart says summer, it says the Adriatic) has proven that political factors have an impact on tourism, because a few years ago it would have been impossible to launch such a campaign due to the strained relations to Serbia.

In Poland, texts for tourists stress the accession of Poland to the European Union in 2004 and the transformation from a communist country to a parliamentary democracy.


How to create a national image
In Cyprus, the metaphors of bridge (between Europe and the Arab World) and that of a mosaic appear to be basic for the image of the country. Similar to that, the fact that Croatia is partly a Mediterranean and partly a Central European country, with natural and cultural features typical for both of these regions, has been a rather significant factor in defining its image abroad.


History is central
For all the three countries the role of history is extremely important in building their identities. Thus, the tourism brochures tell us that Croatia has a long and turbulent history: for long periods, the Croats have been ruled by and have fought off Venetians, Ottomans, Hungarians and the Habsburgs, but managed to maintain their identity.

In Cyprus as well the promotional material often refers to the historical composition of the islands culture. The founding fathers are the dominant cultures that presided over / ruled in Cyprus the last 10.000 years and Cypriots are presented as the defenders/bearers of this cultural heritage, united in the treasured legacy of the cultural melange that has given Cyprus its unique character.

Poland as well boasts a turbulent past and the promotional material stresses it all the time. It says that few other European countries have had such a chequered history as Poland, but that in spite of strong foreign powers the Polish succeeded in keeping their own culture.


Stereotypes used for tourism
Researchers have also looked for stereotypes which are used to describe a country and its people. It is interesting that one of the stereotypes occurring in tourist guides and brochures of all the three countries is that of hospitality.

A possible interpretation of this is the fact that hospitality is a characteristic generally attributed to Slavic people on one side and the Mediterranean nations on the other; although this could be seen as a clich as well.


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