Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Enforcing Sustainability Principles in Tourism Via Creative Tourism Development

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Enforcing Sustainability Principles in Tourism Via Creative Tourism Development

Article excerpt

Introduction

The importance of sustainability principles has been increasingly recognized in science and politics as the world is faced with several economic, environmental and social challenges. The appearance of a new type of economy, which is characterized by new forms of consumption and organization of economic activities, calls upon new tools for achieving sustainability and triple- bottom line performance (Elkington, 1994), respectively. One of these tools is creativity, since in the new economy, labeled also the "experience economy" (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) and the "creative economy" (Howkins, 2001), the ability to create social experiences and networking by memorable events is an important factor of competitiveness and, herewith, sustainability. At the same time, the world has entered the "all cultural" age (Dru, 1996) where the value of meaning prevails over material value. In the economy transformed from the "giant factory" to the "grand theatre" (Rifkin, 2000), creativity is becoming the new source of wealth (Florida, 2002). The recognition of the economic potential of creativity (e.g. Landry, 2000; Florida, 2002, 2005; Tepper, 2002; UNCTAD, 2008, 2010; European Commission, 2010) and culture (e.g. UNESCO, 1986; Throsby, 2001; OECD, 2006; KEA, 2006, 2009; European Commission, 2007), has set culture-based creativity as a development tool and as a potential solution to the range of economic, social and environmental problems (i.e. new approaches to learning, new marketing approaches, developing social capital and community cohesion, environmental innovation, etc.).

In line with the rise of experience economy and skilled consumption, the tourism, like other sectors, has undergone major transformations. The rapid growth of cultural tourism has caused problems and there are signs that cultural tourism is becoming a victim of its own success (Richards, 2009, p. 2). A growing number of tourists at major sites and in small communities have raised questions about the sustainability of this form of tourism. Historic city centers have started to suffer from a "vicious circle" of cultural tourism development in which famous sites attract large number of tourists thus degrading the quality of experience and driving "serious" cultural tourists away (Russo, 2002). In the search for their uniqueness through cultural tourism, many places have followed similar strategies, which have resulted in making those places feel and look the same (Richards and Wilson, 2006). Consequently, several places have started to search for the new forms of articulation between culture and tourism to help to strengthen rather than water down local culture.

Creative tourism (Richards & Raymond, 2000; Richards, 2005; Wurzburger et al., 2008) could respond to the need of cultural tourism to re-invent itself as well as to the need of tourist destinations to do something different in a saturated market. It deeply involves the tourists in the culturescape of the destination as they take part in different activities--such as crafts, arts, culinary and other creative activities. This, in turn enhances their opportunities for learning new skills and establishing a close link between them and the local population and its cultural heritage (Richards & Wilson, 2007). It meets the desire of tourists for more fulfilling and meaningful experiences. In this sense, creative tourism is similar to "experiential tourism" (Smith, 2006).

So far, only few studies (eg. UNESCO, 2006; Solene, 2011) have explored the connections between sustainability and creative tourism development. This is not surprising since the concept of creative tourism has only begun to be recognized and many of the creative tourism initiatives currently operating around the world are still at an early stage in their development. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the sustainability dimensions of creative tourism and to develop a model of sustainable creative tourism. …

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