Gheorghe-Gavrilă Hognogi, Alexandra-Camelia Marian-Potra, Ana-Maria Pop, Simona Mălăescu
Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 86, 2021, Pages 198-207, ISSN 0743-0167,
This study identifies the potential interrelations between nostalgia, experiential tourism and watermill heritage and its implications for the local community. The study area is represented by the catchment area of the Someșul Mare River (Romania). Some 15 semi-structured interviews were carried out attempting to grasp the perception of the local community on the role played by mills in the 18th-20th centuries, namely to show their polarization and social functions. The interviews were supplemented by 10 observation sheets filled out in the field. These contain information on the current state of the mills, the items being focused on the following aspects: type and dynamics of ownership, current use, structure of water-powered facilities, polarization area, and age. Results showed that some functional mills still exist and could be subject to investments for tourism purposes. The importance of mills for the local community stems both from the stories of the former millers or their customers and also by considering the significant number of working mills during the 18th – 20th centuries, which were cartographically reconstructed in this paper. If nostalgia can become a standalone resource in individualizing a particular tourism type, we may conclude that the watermill heritage, by all its attributes, provides strong heritage tourism potential.
Keywords: Heritage-led regeneration; Local communities; Nostalgia; Cultural heritage; Watermills; Romania