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Tawsif Dowla Title : Sociocultural integration of resettled refugees through tourism

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12:00 PM, domingo 20 jun 2021 (30 minutos)
  Virtual session
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Sociocultural integration of resettled refugees through tourism


Tawsif Dowla

Through this research, I explored the potential of utilizing 'tourism' to facilitate the resettled refugees' sociocultural integration into their new country. Using a mixed and multimethod approach with a realist social-constructionist perspective, I began this research by exploring the social reality surrounding various stages of refugee resettlement. Subsequently, I inquired about tourism's applicability in fostering refugees' sociocultural integration, informed by article one of UNWTO Global Code of Ethics, "contribute to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies." A range of multidisciplinary sources with theoretical and empirical underpinnings formed the basis of my inquiries. For the primary research, I have used semi and unstructured interviews and participatory action research in commensuration with the juxtaposition of three participating entities, a) refugees, b) refugee-serving agencies, c) the tourism community. Subsequently, through the triangulation of data generated through primary and secondary research, I have formulated a comprehensive analysis of the potential for incorporating tourism within the integration process involving all participating entities. The fact that instigated this research is, despite the government and its agencies' concerted resettlement effort, the initial happiness and fascination amongst the refugees upon arrival to their new country are short-lived. After the first six months, some research suggests that as the refugees begin to encounter unemployment, deskilling, cultural variance, or public misconception, to name a few, they begin to feel disappointed, confused and irritated. Depending on the individual level of resilience in the face of life exigencies, while refugees gradually recover and eventually accept and adjust to society, many increasingly distance themselves from the host community and congregate in ethnic silos for economic, social and cultural protection. During such a state of disappointment, confusion, or irritation, as both primary and secondary research findings point out, refugees ought to participate in societal activities even in the face of challenges while upholding their cultural integrity. The research participants from all three entities concurred that tourism can be a catalyst to sociocultural integration by nurturing refugees' shifting sense of place and self. Most research participants from the refugee community and refugee-serving agencies stated that visiting sites (near or far) and meeting new people could create unique spaces for inclusion. While supporting the novel concept, some participants from the tourism community also expressed their skepticism about its actualization in the absence of a sustainable, practical framework. Keeping such inherent challenges in mind, I am proposing a conceptual framework for tourism's involvement in sociocultural integration. Concurrent to various stages of resettlement, this framework outlines the gradual progression of tourism intervention in augmenting refugee integration. My research findings suggest that if intervened starting as early within the first three months from refugee arrival, tourism experiences can optimize their happiness and fascination stage while minimizing disappointment, confusion or frustration. If proceeded methodically, during the subsequent stages, tourism experiences can improve refugees' resilience to navigate through the successive stages of gradual recovery, adjustment, and acceptance. Upon conversing with members from the participating entities, I discovered a willingness to support an endeavour such as this if a comprehensive approach is undertaken through mutual involvement towards collective improvement. Through this conceptual framework, I have also outlined a tentative timeline for monitoring the change in the participating refugees' wellbeing to compare that with the nonparticipants'.

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