NEW: The Creative Touris Business Model & Its Application in Bulgaria: an research article based on the model below and co-authored with Stanislav Ivanov. Download the article here.
The creative tourism is a form of cultural tourism – it counts on cultural assets to attract travelers to a destination. It is also a form of creative community’s development – by stimulating the creative industries from outside, the local economy improves beyond the profits from tourism.
On the other side, the business model for creative tourism defers radically from the business model of conventional cultural tourism. First, it is based on a different resources. Cultural tourism is focused on iconic buildings, mega events (festivals, etc.), strong presence of historic heritage, vibrant cultural life at a destination and limited famous geographies (Italy, France, Spain, Egypt, England, etc.).
Creative tourism demand is related to the need for learning and experiencing the creative process – from textiles weaving in the Mapuche regions of Chile to icon-painting in Russia. In some outbound markets, like the USA, the demand is driven in strong traditions and proliferation of hobbies and craft making. And because the creative tourism doesn’t need impressive historic buildings, UNESCO lists or famous events, its destinations extend to all kind of countries and cities – from Berlin and Barcelona to small villages along the Yantra river and the high planes of Peru. This geographical enlargement benefits communities that otherwise wouldn’t have a shot in taking a piece of the profit in the cultural tourism.
The second big difference is exactly the profit distribution. While cultural tourism contributes to the local economy through tourism taxes, entrance fees to museums, events tickets, and souvenir buying (tourism and supporting industries exports), the creative tourism contribution goes beyond these benefits. First, in the cultural tourism, most of the tourism exports happen in the outbound market, where tour operators and travel agencies sell the product. Very few of the packaged tours profits or the individual traveler dollars go directly to the local community when it comes to international cultural tourism.
On the contrary, the creative tourism directly contributes to the local economy not only trough tourism exports, but through direct financial contribution to the local creative industries and the supporting local infrastructure.
Another issue with cultural tourism is the vast percentage of the so called “accidental cultural tourists” – travelers who use the product of the cultural tourism once at a destination, but their motivation to travel to this destination is not driven by its cultural assets. That makes financial projections, forecasts and planning very difficult, specially on the domestic markets. The research shows huge gaps in statistics about the so called “cultural tourist”: only in the USA there is a difference between 78% (Mandala research) and 14% (NEA) on what percentage of all travelers are cultural heritage travelers.
Since creative tourism is driven by motivation to learn and participate in the creation of a cultural activity, it is much easier to distinguish the regular tourist from the creative one. That helps hugely all economic activities of forecasting, researching, and – ultimately –planning the creative tourism development.
While there are differences between cultural and creative tourism, the business model for creative tourism clearly shows that any destination of cultural tourism also can profit from creative tourism. This merger of different types of tourism finds very fertile ground through the creative tourism activities: creative and adventure tourism, cultural and creative tourism, archaeology tourism and creative tourism, wine & gourmet tourism and creative tourism, etc. Therefore, destinations that already have the assets to develop other type of tourism, as Barcelona, for example with its great resources for cultural tourism, are using this advantage for increasing their profit with creative tourism.
Additional advantages from creative tourism are the non-tangible benefits that it brings to communities. From identity building to attracting talent from other places, the creative industries flourish and contribute to the positive development of local communities. Once creative industries are developed because of creative tourism demand, the tangible benefits increase internally too through better business, real estate and overall human capital climate.
I have prepared a presentation in Spanish on creative tourism and its impact to local communities. Soon it will be available in English too. E-mail me if you need the bibliography on creative tourism.
Infographics designer: Stevan Olson for Vizantia