Creativitiy & Tourism: The Current Discussion

I would like to discuss a brand new article on the relationship of tourism and creativitiy that Greg Richards of Tilburg University has sent me after being published in the Annals of Tourism Research, Volume 38, 2011.

Fortunate enough to know him personally since the 2010 International Creative Tourism Network Conference, Greg really knows a great deal about research in cultural and, more recently, creative tourism. “Creativity”, he says, is about to “transform traditional cultural tourism”, bringing about “greater involvement with the everyday life of the destination”. Arguably, it is an “escape route from the serial reproduction of mass cultural tourism, offering more authentic experiences” that are “co-created between host and tourist”.

What do you think? Have your say here and read through a brief summary of this article!

dot painting workshop


Creativity: Distinction, Authenticity & Development

I love this phrase by Greg: “Creativitiy is ‘in’, it is not just ‘hot’, but also ‘cool’. Certainly, the creative class is gaining more and more wide-spread support, with creative tourism being developed both as an “adjunct as well as an antidote to mass forms of cultural tourism”. The practice of creative tourism involves visits to creative clusters, the use of creative products as tourism attractions (e.g. visits of famous painters and musicians) or the design of creative activities for tourists, such as workshops and masterclasses.

“In essence, we are seeing the development of tourism as an increasingly creative and ludic environment, within which new practices can be developed”, says Greg Richards in his article. This is the case in many of the activities offered through the network of Creative Tourism Austria, for instance.


Creativity lends itself to democracy and involvement

Every individual has creative potential and is entitled to enjoy creative and cultural activities”. “I am not creative”, or “This is not for me”, are some of the principal prejudices that need to be overcome when dealing with the successful marketing of creativity and travel. On the other hand, however, “the extraordinary has become harder to find” in terms of globalisation. New relationships with the everyday life of a certain destination can provide such an escape route for tourists seeking the exception to the norm. An example for this is the “Greeters Network” or the network “Tours by Locals”.


Creativity in Tourism

Flamenco Tourism in Seville? Silk-weaving holidays in Japan? Dance performances in the Carribbean? Creativity is now seen as a “general force for tourism development”. However, tourism destinations need to become more creative in offering “characteristic experiences” that offer a “specific reason to visit”, such as local skills in a particular art or technique. The local can therefore be valued as a source of knowledge from which the tourist can learn.

Many destinations around the globe have started to develop creativity in tourism, “both in rural and urban environments”. Examples of these include the City of Santa Fe in New Mexico, the country of New Zealand, Singapore, Barcelona, the Algarve region of Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands or Sweden.

As a conclusion, Greg Richards mentions that the “intensity of participative models of creative tourism makes it unlikely to move in the mass market of cultural tourism” any time soon. The “evolving relationship between creativity and tourism may therefore force us to rethink some important aspects of contemporary tourism”. This is especially true considering that “tourists not only visit places, they make them”: Tourism experiences are no longer solely provided by local actors, but are a means of co-creation of skills and knowledge between travellers and those who are visited.

Thanks, Greg, for this really insightful publication!

What do you think? Share your opinion here!

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