Homecoming or tourism? Diaspora tourism experience of second-generation immigrants

Wei-Jue Huang, Gregory Ramshaw, William C. Norman

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Diaspora tourism is often considered a form of ‘homecoming,’ but for the children of immigrants who are born in the new country, the question remains as to whether they perceive their parents’ homeland as ‘home’ or destination. Moreover, advancements in transportation and communication technologies allow contemporary immigrants to maintain transnational ties to their homeland, which in turn may affect the nature of diaspora tourism. The purpose of this study is to understand the lived experience of second-generation immigrants when they travel to their ancestral homeland, and explore the extent to which second-generation transnationalism shapes their diaspora tourism experiences. Using a phenomenological approach, 26 second-generation Chinese-Americans who had the experience of traveling in China were interviewed. Four themes were identified from semi-structured interviews: language and appearance, search for authenticity, family history, and sense of ‘home.’ Proficiency in their parental language was found to be a main cause of negative experiences, yet occasionally a source of pride and attachment. Their search for authentic experiences was not unlike other tourists, while familial obligations sometimes limited their experience. Traveling back to the homeland not only allowed them to understand their parents and family history, but also reflect upon their life through experiencing contemporary China. Finally, as the transnational attachment of second-generation immigrants was not rooted in a specific locale, they could feel connected to the homeland without actually visiting their family's place of origin. Findings contribute to transnationalism and diaspora tourism literature by comparing first- and second-generation immigrants and identifying the difference between contemporary transmigrants and classic diaspora groups with regard to their diaspora tourism experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-79
Number of pages21
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Chinese diaspora
  • Diaspora tourism
  • homecoming
  • place attachment
  • second-generation immigrants
  • transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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