In a globalising world, places increasingly need to be creative in order to maintain their distinctiveness and continue to attract tourists. As physical aspects of development often converge in a process of "serial reproduction", so there is increasing emphasis being placed on the development of intangible cultural resources and creativity (Richards and Wilson, 2006).
Developing distinctiveness on the basis of intangible culture or creativity requires destinations to establish a link in the mind of the visitor between particular manifestations of culture and creativity and specific locations. This process is being aided by the rise of the regions, which has now produced a raft of more localized, embedded cultural symbols alongside global or national cultural symbols.
Much of the current thinking about the "creative" also has its roots in the study of clusters and networks, emphasising the need for creative businesses to feed off one another to develop their products and ideas. Cities in particular have developed a large number of cultural or creative clusters, many of which depend on creative production and/or consumption for their existence. In such new urban spaces, creativity can become a spectacle for the tourist gaze, or a backdrop to tourist consumption or the focus of tourist activity. Richards and Wilson (2006) argue that there are three basic types of creative tourism experiences:
- Creative spectacles
Creative and innovative activities, which then form the basis of more passive tourist experiences (i.e. production of creative experiences for passive consumption by tourists).
- Creative spaces
Creative enclaves populated by cultural creatives to attract visitors (often informally at first) due to the vibrant atmosphere that such areas often exude (e.g. Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass -- D.U.M.B.O --. in New York).
- Creative tourism
Active participation by tourists in creative activities, skill development and/or creative challenge can form the basis of tourist experiences, which can imply a convergence of creative spectacles and creative spaces.
This volume looks at some of the consequences of the shift towards intangible and creative tourism resources in case studies from around the world.
In Chapter 2, Ilaria Pappalepore examines the marketing of postmodern European cities, and the way in which intangible resources have become central to their image. She argues that for "Cool cities", dreams, aspirations and lifestyles are more important than physical products such as museums and monuments. Looking at cities such as Turin, Lille and Manchester, she shows that many cities have begun to position themselves as innovative and creative in order to maximise their distinctiveness.
Such reliance on new, dynamic creative images may pose a problem for historic cities which have a weight of heritage on their shoulders. Christopher Boyko looks at the example of the historic city of Bruges in Belgium in Chapter 3, and particularly focuses on the desire of the city to change its image by hosting the European Capital of Culture event in 2002. He shows that there are significant differences of opinion among residents about the desirability and effectiveness of adding creative elements to the fabric of the old city.
Chapter 4 presents a substantial contrast, analysing the development of gaming tourism in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Lindisizwe Magi argues that creativity can be understood as a good or service, which allows for personal involvement by the tourists, local authorities and local communities. Seen in this way, the development of gaming can be seen as a creative response to the range of problems faced by the region, particularly in introducing new forms of tourism and new sources of income.
Kong-Yew Wong and Ahmad Puad Mat Som examine the creativity that often develops in border regions in Chapter 5. They look at Malaysia's Perlis State Park, which forms a trans-frontier protected area, together with Thailand's Thaleban National Park. They point to the creative potential provided by the mixing of national cultures at the border, together with the presence of large numbers of tourists. Although the region represents a potential magnet for creative development, they conclude that many local entrepreneurs are marginalised because of their lack of skills.
These papers were all presented at the ATLAS conference on Tourism, Creativity and Development held in Barcelona in November 2005 (other papers from the conference have been published in companion volumes by ATLAS, as well as Richards and Wilson, forthcoming). This conference was designed to explore the interfaces between tourism, development and creativity, particularly in the context of potential collaboration between the creative and tourism sectors.
Some 116 delegates from 24 countries gathered at the University of Barcelona to listen to an interesting set of keynote presentations, over 60 workshop sessions and round-table debate. The many and varied workshop presentations provided a wide array of different approaches to tourism and creativity, ranging from the creative marketing of tourism, to the creative re-packaging of cultural tourism to the development of "creative tourism".