Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Nation Branding through Travel Writing

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Nation Branding through Travel Writing

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

It is our belief that Romania could conveniently be placed into Anholt's third category of countries, that of planetary suburbs, i.e. places generally ignored by the public, but which sometimes generate interest (as opposed to the downtown areas - the major Western democracies and the ghettos - conflict zones and countries which oppose the Western model of development) (ANHOLT, 2010). The interest which the Romanian territories did generate, starting with the 16thcentury, among travellers (most often, at the same time, diplomats, military men, politicians, traders and journalists) began as a series of clichés related to the Latin origin of the Romanian language, Christian Orthodox faith and, later, exotic, mystical, idyllic sceneries and unspoiled rural landscapes, and have been disseminated as such for several centuries through travel writing. More recently, after the collapse of Communism in 1989 and the subsequent adhesion to the European Union (2007), stereotypes such as chronic poverty and systemic corruption came to be associated with the image of Romania (and disseminated heavily both by travel writers and, especially, journalists), a fact which has been acknowledged by reputed scholars (e.g. DELETANT, 2007). Thus, as shown ina recent article, the image (i.e. moral or typological representation of an ethnic/national group through discourse) diverges into the two main axes mentioned above, and these two mega-images have been summarized as the woods and waters Romania (a paraphrase of Fermor in Between the Woods and the Water) and the grand bazaar Romania (FERMOR, 1986; ORMSBY, 2008; SÂSÂIAC, 2015a).

2. NATION BRANDING THROUGH TRAVEL WRITING, A FOCUS ON ROMANIA

Although, nation branding represents a new term, it is not a new concept. Countries have always branded themselves in one way or another. It can be described as an exciting, complex and controversial phenomenon. The area is not very much dealt with by the existing marketing literature but there is a huge amount of real world activity. This makes nation branding very exciting. Its complexity stems from the fact that it encompasses multiple disciplines beyond the limited realm of conventional brand strategy. One could perceive it as controversial due to the fact that it involves an extremely politicized activity which generates passionately held and frequently contrasting opinions or judgements.

Each country's tourism governing body has always market its place as a destination to tourists. As years gone by, the concept developed further into place marketing or place branding, and eventually nation brands, and nation branding. It is natural to deduce that the terminology of nation branding derived from concepts such as "destination branding" and "place branding."

Destination branding is a term used for tourism promotion. Tourism organisations from all over the world use brand management in order to promote their destination, articulating the wonders of their country, and how hospitable they could be (ANHOLT, 2007). Country branding or nation branding refers to the branding of a country and it involves the people of the country or the nation in order to develop and build the brand. Nation branding adds more dimension to the destination attributes, it encompasses the intangible brand value to build brand equity onto the brand identity. Place branding is an umbrella term for "branding nations, regions, cities, towns and villages." (ANHOLT, 2007)

It is important to mention from the beginning that travel writing (texts that are often placed at the crossroads between literature and journalism) is an intercultural narrative par excellence and has the feature of disseminating ethnic and national images. Travelogues are also instances of what is understood by cultural translation, i.e.making the foreign, distant, exotic culture accessible to the domestic readership. Moreover, had Romania not featured this exoticism, or, as Deletant puts it, this mystic of the unknown, it would have not drawn the attention of the many travel writers who covered the Romanian territories in the last five centuries (DELETANT, 2007). …

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