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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Downside of Digitization?

I learned through Irish Roots Cafe of a provocative new article by Emily Heinlen called "Genealogy and the economic drain on Ireland: Unintended consequences."

Heinlen argues that digitizing genealogical records has had the negative effect of discouraging people from traveling to Ireland and spending money. As more records have gone online, she says, fewer genealogy tourists have made the trip. The number of visits actually increased from 1999 to 2000, but dropped by almost a quarter in 2001, and remained stagnant through 2004.

I'm curious why she fails to address the obvious explanation for a precipitous drop in tourism in 2001. Given the aftereffects of 9/11, I'm not sure that the correlation between digitization and lack of tourists is as strong as Heinlen needs it to be. (You can check out Irish visit stats for all classes of tourist here.)

That being said, some of Heinlen's recommendations to raise more genealogy tourism revenue are worth a read. And listen to the January 30 Irish Roots Cafe Podcast for an interview with the author.

Update: Megan says She's Got It Backwards on her Roots Television blog.

[Photo source: Aer Lingus A330 on approach by Rob Colonna]

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