Creative tourism implies more than the simple search for niche markets in the broader field of cultural tourism. It reflects a fundamental shift in the creation of value from production (the “tourism industry”) towards consumption (the “tourist”), with the essential nexus between the two being provided by the encounter, the space/event node in the new social networks of tourism.
In the network society, value is collectively created through relationships and the circulation of relational and other forms of capital through networks. Creative tourism is a form of networked tourism, which depends on the ability of producers and consumers to relate to each other and to generate value from their encounters. Creative tourists are “cool hunters” in search of creative “hot-spots” where their own creativity can feed and be fed by the creativity of those they visit. (quoting Greg Richards, in: Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice, Volume 4 No.2 2012, ISSN1757-031X 3)
Well, I’ve never thought of myself as a “cool hunter” but hopefully there’ll be more of us soon see: learning how to make Pisco Sour, a famous Latin-American drink, in Chile!
Contemporary tourists in search of self-development and relational capital
“It is clear that creative tourism is developing rapidly, and that it does not conform to one single model or perspective, but is rather open and flexible in its adaptation to local contexts”, I read from the introduction to the special issue about Creative Tourism that brings together several research papers from the Barcelona 2010 Conference of the Creative Tourism Network.
“Creative tourism, because of its bilateral relationships between producers and consumers, increases social and relational capital for both tourists and (local) providers. Without the involvement and participation of the local community, creative tourism would be difficult, if not impossible, since it emerges in the intermingled spaces of the encounter between tourists and locals.”
A widening scope of the meaning of creative tourism
In the latest edition of the Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice (http://www.tourismconsumption.org), cultural& creative tourism research expert Greg Richards talks about “the growing scope of creative tourism and the increasing diversity of experiences offered, including a wide range of creative experiences in which the creative content can be foregrounded or used as a creative backdrop and in which the level of tourist and local involvement in the production of the experience can be high or low.”
In other words, creative tourism can be described as:
- A means of involving tourists in the creative life of the destination
- A creative means of using existing resources
- A means of strengthening identity and distinctiveness
- A form of self expression/discovery
- A form of edutainment – education a self-realisation and education
- A source of “atmosphere” for places
- A source for recreating and reviving places
Creative tourism appears therefore as a key development option for various reasons and can serve distinctive objectives. It responds to the need for tourism to re-invent itself as well as to the need for destinations to do something different in a saturated market. It can also meet the desire of tourists for more fulfilling and meaningful experiences, as described by “experiential tourism”.
One example of this is in the Special Issue by Florencia Cueto Pedrotti, which takes the Saint James Way as a potential space for combining co-creation and experiential learning. She outlines how creative tourism experiences can be developed along the cultural route, providing opportunities for tourism and hospitality students to learn interactively through creative engagement with local people. Valery Gordin and Marina Matetskaya examine the urban spaces ofSaint Petersburg in order to identify new trends and approaches in the creative tourism sector.
Caroline Couret describes the Barcelona Creative Tourism platform, which is a model based largely on the development of artistic links between locals and visitors. The Barcelona experience was also inspirational in the founding of the international creative tourism network, which now includes Barcelona, Rome and Paris, among other members.