NOTICE: this is the author's version of a work that was accepted for publication in Annals of
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document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A
definitive version was subsequently published in Annals of Tourism Research, volume 38, 2011.
CREATIVITY AND TOURISM: THE STATE OF THE ART
The rapidly developing relationship between tourism and creativity, arguably heralds a ‘creative
turn’ in tourism studies. Creativity has been employed to transform traditional cultural tourism,
shifting from tangible heritage towards more intangible culture and greater involvement with the
everyday life of the destination. The emergence of ‘creative tourism’ reflects the growing integration
between tourism and different placemaking strategies, including promotion of the creative
industries, creative cities and the ‘creative class’. Creative tourism is also arguably an escape route
from the serial reproduction of mass cultural tourism, offering more flexible and authentic
experiences which can be co-created between host and tourist. However the gathering critique also
highlights the potential dangers of creative hype and commodification of everyday life.
Creative tourism, creativity, cultural tourism, creative industries, creative clusters
CREATIVITY AND TOURISM: THE STATE OF THE ART
Creativity is 'in'; it is not just ‘hot’, but also ’cool’. Creative cities, the creative industries, creative
districts, and creative individuals jostle for the attention of policy-makers, the media and the
‘creative class’ in general. People seem increasingly keen to develop their creative potential, by
enhancing their productive or consumption skills, by following courses or experiencing creativity on
holiday. Creativity is arguably not just an end in itself, but also a means to develop distinction,
economic spin-off and authenticity (Zukin, 2010).
Not surprisingly, tourism has also been caught up in this creative maelstrom. In recent studies of
urban economies, tourism is often listed as one of the creative industries, and ‘creative tourism’ has
been taken up by many destinations around the globe. Creative tourism has been posed as an
extension of cultural tourism – at once an adjunct and an antidote to mass forms of cultural tourism
and the serial reproduction of culture (Richards and Wilson, 2006).
This review article attempts to analyze and explain the developing relationship between tourism and
creativity, specifically considering the implications of the ‘creative turn’ in tourism and examining the
ways in which relationship has been approached in tourism studies and more general social science
literature. It deals with the drivers of creativity in tourism both in terms of production and
consumption, evolving intervention strategies, the development of creative practices in tourism and
the rise of creative tourism as a distinct field of tourism development. The gathering critique of
creativity is also reviewed, and the potential dangers of the creative colonization of everyday life are
WHAT IS CREATIVITY?
One of the major problems with creativity is definition. Klausen (2010) notes that “the standard
definition of creativity is problematic and maybe in an even worse state than is generally
acknowledged by creativity researchers themselves” (p. 347) and Scott (2010:155-116) remarks “in
view of its current vogue, the term calls urgently for substantive clarification.” There is therefore no
single widely-accepted definition of creativity. Taylor (1988) reviews the multitude of definitions of
creativity in the literature, and groups the general scientific approaches into four main areas, which
correspond to the ‘4Ps’ of creativity (Rhodes, 1961):
•The creative person
•The creative process
•The creative product
•The creative environment (‘creative press’)
The practice of tourism currently involves all four of these approaches, for example in the use of the
creative environment through visits to creative clusters, the use of creative products as tourism
attractions (e.g. travel related to famous authors, painters, etc.), the utilization of the creative
process through the participation of tourists in creative activities (e.g. creative tourism) and the
involvement of creative people through the activities of the ‘creative class’ (Florida, 2002).
Creativity was historically associated with the creative person, although Amabile (1996) suggested
that in recent decades creativity research has increasingly tended to highlight the creative product.
The contemporary emphasis seems to have shifted again, both towards the social context and the
broader environment of creativity. Scott (2010) argues that socially embedded creativity implies
much more than the activities of gifted individuals or members of the “creative class“. Socially
embedded interpretations of creativity have also been obvious in tourism, where an initial lack of
attention for creative activities or policies has been replaced by a growing number of studies that
underline the interwoven nature of culture, creativity and tourism (e.g. OECD, 2009).
Broadening notions of creativity reflect a general ‘creative turn’ in society, which can also be
identified in many different social and academic fields, including literature, urban development,
cultural policy, economy, aesthetics, academic writing. theatre, architecture and education.
Richards and Wilson (2007) argue that the ‘creative turn’ in the social sciences developed out of the
earlier ‘cultural turn’ as broadening notions of ‘culture’ began to undermine the explanatory power
of the term, and as ‘culture’ itself waned in terms of its ability to generate distinction for social
groups, economic classes and places. This development follows the general de-differentiation of
culture and economy and different spheres of life (Jelinčić, 2009). These processes have also led to
tourism and creativity becoming increasingly integrated on a number of levels. As Andersson and
Thomsen (2008:42) argue, “the new integration of culture and business and hence the experience
economy are central elements expressing the ‘creative’ turn where culture becomes an instrument
for growth and development.” Tourism is in turn one of the major carriers of economic growth in the
field of culture and creativity.
The turn towards creativity can therefore be seen not just as a general trend affecting a range of
academic disciplines, but also as a broader instrumentalisation of culture and creativity. Creativity
has become a strategy to be followed by cities and regions in a search for growth, as well as a
strategy from promoting innovation and individual skill development (Ray, 1998). All of these
changes can in turn be linked to broader processes of globalization, commodification, rising
competition between cities and regions and the development of the knowledge or network economy
The creative turn has therefore affected tourism in a number of ways. As well as increased creative
content being integrated into tourism products, tourism has itself become a creative arena for the
development of skills and performance. As Cloke (2006, p. 105) points out, the creative
performative role in tourism can extend to many areas not traditionally seen as creative, such as
bungee jumping: “A kind of performativity in which although the actual process is staged,
nevertheless the unfolding event is entirely immanent, and resistant to representational
signification”. In essence we are seeing the development of tourism as an increasingly creative and
ludic environment, within which new practices can be developed which challenge current
representations of space.
The rise of creativity as an individual and social phenomenon has been stimulated by processes
related to both production and consumption, which are considered in the following section.
PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION AND CREATIVITY
In the field of leisure and tourism, production and consumption are increasingly becoming integrated
as the barriers between work and leisure, and between different economic sectors become vaguer
Cultural and leisure production and consumption (of arts, fashion, music, food, tourism),
creative industries of technology-intensive and knowledge-rich enterprises containing
design (in architecture, fashion, graphics, internet, etc), new media and ICTs have become
the growth engine of the post-industrial city (p. 11).
Developing practices of production and consumption are at the forefront of the creative turn, with a
symbiotic relationship between a productive drive towards developing new experiences and
consumer desires for new sources of ‘fun’ and distinction (Pantzar and Shove, 2005).
In terms of production, the rise of creativity is often linked to the development of the ‘experience
economy’ (Pine & Gilmore, 1999; Poulsson & Kale, 2004), in which growing competition arguably
leads producers to add value to services by developing ‘experiences’. Tourism became an
important driver of this process, with the development of specific experience environments and the
repackaging of a range of tourist services as ‘experiences’. As the experience economy leaned
heavily on the development of themed and staged experiences, the importance of symbolic
production (Lash & Urry, 1994) and the role of the ‘creative industries’ as a major source of
symbolic content for tourism became more obvious. Tourism has become part of the cultural or
symbolic economy, as Gibson & Kong (2005) note:
many sectors (including industries such as furniture and industrial design, certain forms of
niche food production and tourism) may now be viewed as part of the cultural economy
because of their symbolic content, when they were at best only peripherally considered part
of 'the arts' previously (p. 543).
Commentators on the rise of the symbolic economy, including Zukin (1995) and Hannigan (1998)
have pointed to the leading role of tourism, media and entertainment in symbolic production.
“Cultural strategies of redevelopment are complicated representations of change and desire. Their
common element is to create a ‘cultural’ space connecting tourism, consumption and style of life”
(Zukin, 1995, p. 83).
The creative development of tourism production also stems from the nature of tourism itself. As with
many other service industries growing competition forces enterprises to move up the value chain,
evolving new sources of value (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). This process has also been evident in
cultural tourism, where the increasing supply of cultural products has in many cases outstripped
demand (Richards, 1996), increasing competition and driving a search for alternative models. As
Russo (2002) has pointed out, cultural tourism has become subject to a vicious cycle of
overdevelopment, reducing returns and lack of investment, which has undermined the value of
cultural tourism for many destinations. One response has been a shift from cultural tourism towards
creative tourism and creative development strategies (D’Auria, 2009), thereby arguably producing
more flexible and innovative forms of tourism experience which are harder to copy or imitate than
mere services (Alvarez, 2010).
The shift towards creative production has also been stimulated by the increased attractiveness of
creative occupations. As McRobbie (2007) has argued in the case of the UK, the creative sector is
increasingly characterized by precarious forms of labour which are sustained by a belief in the ‘one
hit wonder’ which will deliver riches and fame. The creative industries can therefore count on a
significant pool of part-time and casual workers, many of whom will try and increase their career
prospects by building their creative networks, attending parties and events in creative and cultural
locations which attract other would be creative stars (Currid, 2007). Artists are also often seen as
the pioneers of urban regeneration. As Zukin (2010) has shown in the case of New York, artists are
often the first to move into rundown neighbourhoods in search of cheap space, kick-starting a
gentrification process which eventually leads to upgrading of the area and the growth of tourism.
A number of trends in the field of consumption also point to an increasingly important role for
creativity in tourism. Among the key consumption trends linked by Richards & Wilson (2006) to the
rise of creativity are:
•Dissatisfaction with contemporary modes of consumption
•Blurring boundaries between work and leisure (serious leisure, work as play, lifestyle
•Increased desire for self-development and skilled consumption
•Experience hunger of postmodern consumers
•Building narrative, biography and identity
•Attractiveness of creativity as a form of expression
In essence, many of these trends stem from the development of a postmodern, postmaterialist
society, where consumption becomes an underpinning for particular lifestyles and identities. People
therefore increasingly distinguish themselves in terms of what they consume and particularly
through the symbolic values attached to their consumption practices (Bourdieu, 1984; Wynne,
1998). As Collins (2004) notes, these practices in turn become established social rituals, which help
to create new symbols of identification.
Consumption skills therefore become vital to navigating the postmodern landscape. Skilled
consumption not only allows people to develop distinctive identities through lifestyle enhancement,
but it also leads to more creative use of tourism resources (Richards, 1996, Russo & Arias Sans,
2007). Consumption skills are usually honed during leisure time, for example in the development of
hobbies (Jelinčić , 2009) but can also become a means of generating work and economic capital, as
in the case of ‘lifestyle entrepreneurs’ (Peters et al., 2009). Creative skills are widely used as the
basis for small-scale tourism business, for example in the provision of painting or photography
holidays, gastronomic experiences and spiritual or ‘holistic’ holidays (Smith & Puczkó, 2008). The
development of such lifestyle businesses are arguably one of the main drivers of creative tourism
development (Richards & Wilson, 2007).
As Amin & Thrift (2002, p. 125) have noted, there is a tendency for such consumption practices to
be enlisted into economic and development strategies by cities and regions, where “the impact of
the imagination and fantasy becomes a major part of the conduct of business, to be traded on and
turned into profit”. Production and consumption factors are thereby increasingly entwined. Crewe
and Beverstock (1998) point to the fact that places increasingly distinguish themselves through their
‘consumptional identities’, or the reconstruction of places as centres of consumption, through the
manipulation of culture and creative resources.
CREATING DISTINCTIVE PLACES
Creative resources are now regularly employed to generate more distinctive identities, offering
regions and cities a symbolic edge in an increasingly crowded marketplace. The emphasis in such
strategies has also shifted from tangible to intangible cultural resources because more places
lacking a rich built heritage are now competing for tourism business (Richards & Wilson 2007).
Such processes lie behind the attempt of many cities and regions to make themselves more
distinctive. Turok (2009) has argued that cities need to adjust their image more rapidly in global
markets and therefore they rely less on changes in their occupational or industrial structure, and
more on branding for their distinctiveness. Evans (2003) has also suggested that forms of branding
based on cultural and creative resources are crucial for the competitive position of cities and
regions. The reliance on lifestyle, ‘soft’ locational factors, branding and image places more reliance
on leisure and tourism as key resources in distinction strategies (Jackson & Murphy 2006), so that
place adds value to the cultural economy in general, “as a stockpile of knowledge, traditions,
memories and images” (Scott, 2010, p. 123).
This is part of a broader shift from comparative to competitive advantage in destination
competitiveness, as noted in the OECD report on the Impact of Culture on Tourism (2009). This
report emphasized that comparative advantage is derived largely from endowed resources, such as
cultural heritage, while competitive advantage relies more on resource deployment (in other words,
creativity in managing and marketing the destination). The ability of a tourism destination to
compete therefore depends on “its ability to transform the basic inherited factors into created assets
with a higher symbolic or sign value” and that “organizational capacities allow some regions to
make better use of their inherited and created assets to make themselves attractive to tourists”
(OECD, 2009, pp. 29-30).
The creative turn in public policy was perhaps most notable in the UK in the 1990s, when the
Labour government made creativity “one of the most ubiquitous policy terms not only within cultural
policy discussions but also in the overall spectrum of public policies including education and
economy” (Neelands & Choe, 2008). The development of ‘cool Britannia’ was sold not just in
economic, but also social terms. According to Smith (1998, p. 144), “the great thing about creativity”
is that “it lends itself to a democracy of involvement”: every individual has creative potential and is
entitled to enjoy creative and cultural activities. The fact that creativity was seen as having social
and economic outcomes made it useful for the Labour Government’s ‘third way’ approach to
reconciling market and society. Such ideas were also taken up in other parts of the world, including
Australia (Commonwealth Government, 1994) Singapore (Ooi, 2006), and South Africa (Rogerson,
Creativity is therefore attractive as a policy option for stimulating a range of economic, cultural and
social outcomes. It is also attractive because of the argued advantages produced by networking
and knowledge spillover which stimulate further creative activity. Public sector intervention in
creative development has basically involved three approaches (Campbell, 2011):
In broad terms, creative industries strategies aim to stimulate the development of creative
production through support for the ‘creative industries’ sector, which is broadly defined to include
advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing,
software, toys and games, TV and radio, and video games (DCMS, 1998). In some cases the
definition of creative industries has been broadened to include tourism (Bagwell, 2008; Bonink and
Hitters, 2001; Evans, 2009).
The creative cities approach has been championed by Charles Landry (2000), who argued that a
broader approach to creativity was required to solve urban problems, involving the development of
creative production and new governance systems to allow creativity to flourish in society as a
whole. Creative city strategies are founded on the idea that creativity can be fostered or steered
(Lange et al., 2008) not just in the creative industries, but among citizens in general (Sepe, 2010) in
order to be ‘creative for the world’ (Landry, 2006) .
The ‘creative class’ approach popularized by Richard Florida (2002) is based on the idea that there
is a growing number of people engaged in creative occupations who are attracted to places
because of their creative atmosphere and lifestyle. By attracting the creative class, the argument
goes; a city can stimulate economic activity and improve their image.
These three approaches therefore have different emphases in terms of creativity; stimulating a
specific industry sector, developing the creative potential of the whole city, or attracting a specific
group of producers and consumers. Where all three approaches come together is in the
development of cultural or creative clusters, which as Flew (2005) notes are a more direct attempt
to manage space to promote and develop creativity. The creative industries approach leans heavily
on traditional economic theory about the effects of production clustering (Porter, 1998), but the
tendency for the creative class to congregate in particular places with a creative ‘atmosphere’ has
also been stressed by Florida (2002). Creative city strategies also tend to be organized around
specific ‘creative clusters’ (Evans, 2009), creative precincts (Hee et al., 2009) or ethnic enclaves
(Shaw, 2007). These creative ‘hot-spots’ are often argued to stimulate the development of the
creative industries as well as acting as a magnet for the consumption power of the creative class,
tourists and other visitors.
As Mommaas (2004) explains, such ‘cultural-creative clusters’ are designed to produce a range of
•Strengthening the Identity, Attraction Power and Market Position of Places
•Stimulating a More ‘Entrepreneurial’ Approach to the Arts and Culture
•Stimulating Innovation and Creativity
•Finding a New Use for Old Buildings and Derelict Sites
•Stimulating Cultural Diversity and Cultural Democracy
Creative clusters therefore have an important role in building the local creative economy, as well as
attracting tourists and adding to the attractiveness of places. This wide range of roles underlines the
broadening scope of creativity, and the gradual shifting from a narrow to a broader view of
creativity: ‘In the cognitive-cultural economy of the twenty-first century the entire city or region is
implicated in processes of learning, creativity and innovation.’ (Scott, 2010: 126-127). In fact, one
might argue that creativity is no longer a separate realm of activity, but is intimately integrated into
the fabric of everyday life.
THE PRACTICE OF CREATIVITY, TOURISM AND EVERYDAY LIFE
Another area of convergence between creativity and tourism lies in their important grounding in
everyday life. The role of ‘everyday creativity’ has become increasingly important with the rise of
popular culture (Fiske, 1989) and more recently new media, the Internet and social networking
(Burgess et al., 2006). A similar shift has taken place in tourism, where recent research on cultural
and creative tourism has challenged the view of tourism as an activity removed from everyday life.
The idea of tourism as a ‘special time’ (Edensor, 2007) has deep roots in the tourism literature. For
example Graburn (1989) posited tourism as an escape from everyday life and MacCannell (1976)
argued that tourism permits our ‘everyday masks’ to be discarded, offering opportunities to explore
different identities and take on ‘new’ roles. In his work on the tourist gaze, Urry (1995) also
emphasized the extraordinary nature of tourism:
The gaze is directed to features of landscape and townscape which separate them off from
everyday and routine experiences. Such aspects are viewed because they are taken to be in
some sense out-of-the-ordinary (p. 132).
However, the practice of tourism has over the past two decades arguably evolved from a
predominantly passive gaze to encompass more active forms of involvement by tourists in the
everyday life of destinations. As exotic, long haul tourism destinations have become more
commonplace in a world shrunk by globalization, the extraordinary has become harder to find in
traditional forms of tourism consumption. Edensor (2001) notes that:
The breaking down of separate areas of social life, …. means that we can be tourists in our
everyday travels, whether actual or virtual. And the fragmentation of tourist specialisms into
niche markets entails a proliferation of stages, activities and identities. The growing social
and economic importance of leisure and a blurring between work and leisure in post-Fordist
economies further obscures the distinction between tourism and the everyday (p. 61).
Stylianou-Lambert (2011) has argued that contemporary cultural tourism is now more an extension
of everyday life than a contrast to it. She found that even though cultural tourists may adopt a tourist
gaze during travel, they do not abandon other gazes or perceptual ‘filters’ carried from home. By
stepping outside the confines of the tourist gaze, cultural and creative tourists are engaging their
creative skills to develop new relationships with the everyday life of the destination. As Maitland
(2007, 2010) argues in the case of ‘new tourism areas’ in London, and Russo & Arias Sans (2007,
2009) describe in the case of student areas in Venice, which they argue are shifting the “unreflexive
relation between gazers and place, towards a more sustainable engagement of visitors in creative
production and consumption” (2009, p.161).
In their search for creative material, tourists increasingly seek out ‘alternative public spaces’
(Neilson, 2002) or the ‘heterogeneous spaces’ that Edensor (2000) contrasts with enclavic, or highly
controlled and scripted tourist spaces. In heterogeneous spaces ‘transitional identities may be
sought and performed alongside the everyday enactions of residents, bypassers, and workers.’ (p.
In these unscripted situations it is difficult to transfer creative knowledge in formalized ways
between tourists and locals. Instead there is raft of platforms designed to provide the creative
knowledge to ‘be a local’ (www.bealocal.com) or engage in locally-based forms of creativity, such
as the Tours by Locals (toursbylocals.com), the Dine with the Dutch programme
(www.dinewiththedutch.com) or city guides delivered via PSP or hotels guides provided on Second
Life (Binkhorst et al., 2010). The growth of Tourist Created Content (TCC) in all forms of media has
provided an immense creative resource for tourists in recent years (Munar, 2010).
In the world of tacit knowledge made available via the Internet, tourists can increasingly be viewed
as the crafters of their own experience, as Richard Sennett suggests in The Craftsman (2008).
Sennett argues that craft skills have not vanished but rather migrated to new areas, such as the
production of open source software. Craft, he argues is a form of social capital: tacit knowledge and
skill accumulated over time and passed on through social interaction. Tacit knowledge is not only
more difficult to transfer, arguably also more difficult to commodify, as it resides in the skilled person
that possesses it. The embeddedness of creative knowledge and skills is one of the arguments for
developing creative tourism. As Cohendet et al. (2010) argue in the case of the ‘creative city’,
knowledge transfer takes place within defined circuits between different groups and ‘scenes’ in the
creative sector. One of the essential requirements of this system is physical spaces where people
can meet and validate new cultural forms, or ‘playgrounds of creativity’ such as cafes, squares,
museum foyers. These are also the new spaces that are often so attractive to tourists.
The interplay of producers and consumers in the development of creative practices is underlined by
Hartley (2007) and (Potts et al., 2008). Instead of traditional value chains that run from producer to
commodity to consumer, instead there are increasingly links between agents (who may be
individuals or firms, who originate ideas), social networks, both real and virtual (adoption) and
market-based enterprise, organizations and coordinating institutions who organize retention. The
development of such ‘social network markets’ is also envisaged in the succession of different
generations of experiences by Boswijk et al. (2007). They argue that the producer-oriented first
generation experiences described by Pine and Gilmore (1999) have been succeeded by second
generation experiences based on co-creation between consumer and producer and more recently
by third generation communities of producers and consumers in which the distinctions between the
two roles effectively disappear.
The conception of creativity as a practice which unites consumers and producers in the ludic
construction of space is illustrated by the analysis of flamenco tourism in Seville by Aoyama
(2009:98). Seville has flamenco schools that also cater to tourists, providing them with the creative
skills necessary to knowledgeably consume flamenco, and travel agents in the city specialise in
packaging flamenco products. The provision of services related purely to performance and
spectacle (often aimed at cultural tourists) is mainly restricted to the city centre area close to hotels
and restaurants. More production-related activities, such as flamenco schools, are found in the
historic neighbourhoods further from the centre. Creative tourists wishing to learn flamenco are
therefore forced to penetrate the everyday fabric of the city in their search for authentic flamenco
skills, while the performance spaces in the city centre provide the revenue needed to keep the
Flamenco might not have survived if it were not for the multiple and overlapping attempts to
develop a site of staged authenticity by businesses, artists and the state, and to cater to the
broader, international audience. Tourism is a co-producer of the flamenco industry, and its
survival hinges upon successful staging of authenticity (p. 100).
CREATIVITY IN TOURISM
The trajectory of creativity from individual inspiration to social network is also evident in the tourism
literature, and in particular in a series of articles in Annals of Tourism Research. Early links between
tourism and creativity were made through analyses of creative activities in destinations which might
be of interest to tourists – usually ‘cultural tourists’ or ‘special interest tourists’ (Zeppel & Hall, 1992)
consuming creative performances or crafts products. For example Richter (1978) analysed the
social changes that occurred in a group of traditional woodcarvers with their participation in the
tourist art market . Creighton (1995) studied silk-weaving holidays in Japan, and Daniel (1996)
analysed the creative role of dance performances in the Caribbean. There was a particularly strong
thread of literature around the theme of ‘tourist arts’, which often traced the way in which local arts
products had been transformed by tourism (Boynton, 1986; Graburn, 1984). A special issue of
Annals edited by Eric Cohen (1993) was devoted to the issue of tourist arts, drawing mainly on arts
production in developing countries (e.g. Horner, 1993; Swain, 1993). As Cohen (1993, p. 1) noted:
“Early commentators tended to criticize or disparage tourist arts, rather than to study them as a
legitimate field of anthropological and sociological inquiry.”
The creativity literature related to tourist arts later developed in two main directions: supply and
demand. Cohen (1995) analysed the development of craft markets in response to tourism
development and Littrell and others researched the factors that influenced tourists to purchase
textile art (Cohen, 2001; Littrell, 1990). The basic assumption in many of these early studies was
that ‘local’ creativity adapted itself to the tourist, and that the tourist was largely unchanged by
creative encounters (Bruner 1989). In many cases tourism was seen as a ‘potentially destructive’
force for the arts and creative expression (Hughes, 1989).
This perspective of tourism as an alienating force began to shift as the role of performativity in
tourism was identified. The work of Fine & Speer (1985:82) underlined the fact that tour guides
enter into a negotiation process which determines the degree of ‘communal creativity’ which will
develop with tourists during the tour. They saw the tour guide role as a performance, which
developed in creative collaboration with the tourists. This approach was echoed in a different
context by Edensor’s (2000) study of tourists at the Taj Mahal. This was one of the first studies to
analyse tourist performance in detail, but other aspects of creative tourist performance have since
been identified, including ‘hip hop tourism’ ( Xie et al., 2007) ‘tango tourism’ (Morel, 2009)
(Richards & Wilson, 2006) and visits to art museums in Las Vegas (Braun-La Tour et al., 2006).
There has also been increased attention for the growing role of the creative industries in developing
tourism and particularly in influencing the image of destinations. For example film-induced tourism
(Beeton, 2005) has recently attracted much attention, driven by the success of films such as Lord of
the Rings in New Zealand (Jones & Smith, 2005) Harry Potter in the UK and the Beach in Thailand
(Hudson and Brent Ritchie, 2006). Music tourism has also become an identifiable creative niche,
covering travel for acquiring music skills, to attend concerts and less formal music events (Gibson
and Connell, 2003). Gastronomic tourism has become more active, going beyond the mere tasting
of food into a range of courses and experiences aimed at honing cooking and consumption skills
(Richards, 2002) or even developing new cuisines (Cohen & Avieli, 2004).
More recent work has tended to emphasise the role of ‘co-creation’ or ‘prosumption’, involving the
creative collaboration in developing tourism practices by both consumers and producers. Gibson &
Connell (2005) cite the important role of tourists in shaping music performances around the world
and adding new, creative dimensions to traditional music forms, Binkhorst (2007) and Binkhorst &
den Dekker (2009) explore how co-creation has been developed in places as diverse as Sitges
(Barcelona) and Venlo (Limburg). Buchmann, et al. (2010) also argue that the tours taken by film
tourists are engaged in a form of ‘collective creation and, in that purposeful and creative process,
the authenticity of the experience is judged.’ (p.242). The co-creation of experiences also extends to
more mundane aspects of tourism, including the dining experience (Morgan et al., 2008; Prebensen
& Foss, 2011).
Over the years, therefore, creativity has therefore been repositioned in tourism studies from a
narrow market niche related mainly to the arts and craft products into a much broader phenomenon
which touches a wide range of tourism activities. This broadening view has been accompanied by
analyses of creativity as a general force for tourism development (Richards & Wilson, 2007;
Wurzburger et al., 2010).
‘Creative tourism’ was first mentioned as a potential form of tourism by Pearce & Butler (1993),
although they did not define the term. During the 1990s there was growing attention for creativity
not only in cities, but also in rural areas. One example of this was the development of ‘crafts
tourism’, as exemplified in the EUROTEX project undertaken in Finland, Greece and Portugal
between 1996 and 1999 (Richards, 1998, 2005). This project identified the growing tourist interest
in local vernacular culture, everyday life and the desire to become more involved through active
creative learning experiences. As a direct result of this work, Richards & Raymond (2000, p.18)
provided the first analysis of creative tourism and produced the following definition: “Tourism which
offers visitors the opportunity to develop their creative potential through active participation in
courses and learning experiences which are characteristic of the holiday destination where they are
This concept was also taken up by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which produced its own
Creative tourism is travel directed toward an engaged and authentic experience, with
participative learning in the arts, heritage, or special character of a place, and it provides a
connection with those who reside in this place and create this living culture. (UNESCO,
2006, p. 3).
Raymond (2007) also produced a revised definition of creative tourism, which in the light of his
experience in developing creative tourism in New Zealand, he saw as being:
A more sustainable form of tourism that provides an authentic feel for a local culture
through informal, hands-on workshops and creative experiences. Workshops take place in
small groups at tutors’ homes and places of work; they allow visitors to explore their
creativity while getting closer to local people (p.145).
Although these definitions differ in emphasis, there are clear common elements: participative,
‘authentic’ experiences that allow tourists to develop their creative potential and skills through
contact with local people and their culture. This formulation suggests a shift towards active rather
than passive forms of consumption, and an emphasis on ‘living’ or ‘intangible’ culture rather than
static, tangible cultural heritage. The essence of creative tourism seems to lie in activities and
experiences related to self-realisation and self-expression whereby tourists become co-performers
and co-creators as they develop their creative skills.
Richards & Raymond (2000) particularly emphasized the fact that creative tourism implies that not
just the tourists need to be creatively involved, but the destination itself needs to become more
creative in designing ‘characteristic’ experiences. This means that the destination needs to think
carefully about the aspects of creativity that are linked to place, and which give creative tourists a
specific motivation to visit. This also makes it important that creativity is also embedded or anchored
in the destination. Every location has the potential to provide a unique combination of knowledge,
skills, physical assets, social capital and ‘atmosphere’ which make particular places particularly
suited to specific creative activities. Sometimes this uniqueness can be traced to a particular
creative tradition, such as the ceramic production of Icheon in Korea (Korean National Commission
for UNESCO, 2010) or tango dancing in Buenos Aires (Morel, 2009). In other cases the
development of a particular cultural ‘scene’ can provide the creative link, such as the Mersey Sound
in Liverpool or the British art movement in St Ives (Stevens, 2003) or artistic colonies in France
(Herbert, 1996). Creativity can also grow up around specific events, such as the Edinburgh Festival
(Prentice & Anderson, 2003) or the Roskilde Festival (Bærenholdt & Haldrup, 2006).
Specific local skills are often also seen as a source of creative tourism development. For example
the work of Miettinen (2007, 2008) on craft development in Namibia shows how local crafts
communities have developed creative tourism through transferring craft making and design skills to
tourists. The female craft producers in Namibia illustrate how the power relations in tourism can be
changed, because instead of the guest being the one served, the local is instead seen as a source
of knowledge and skills from which the tourist can learn. Raymond (2007) analyses the role of crafts
producers in New Zealand in developing ‘authentic’ experiences for tourists and Richards (2005)
also examines the development of craft-based creative experiences for tourists in Finland, Greece
and Portugal. As Fillis (2009:146) argues: ‘One of the strengths of the crafts sector is the ability of
those working within it to utilize their creativity both to overcome the limited resources at their
disposal and to work out how to create and appeal to potential customers.’
The burgeoning field of creative tourism now accommodates a wide range of styles and products.
The volume edited by Richards and Wilson (2007) contains a range of contributions on the
relationship between creativity and tourism, from the creativity inherent in natural phenomena
(Cloke, 2007) to the creative role of ethnic enclaves (Shaw, 2007) and cultural quarters (Evans,
2007; Meethan & Beer, 2007) and the creativity of the ‘fantasy city’ (Hannigan, 2007) or the gay
scene (Hodes et al., 2007). As a result of this review of creative tourism development models,
Figure 1 provides an overview of the different styles of creative tourism, ranging from more active to
more passive types of creative activities and involving different types of creativity.
Insert figure 1 about here
Creative tourism is therefore about far more than the formal provision of learning experiences
described by Raymond (2007). As Landry (2010, p. 37) argues, creative tourism provides
opportunities for tourists to ‘get under the skin’ of a place: “Much of the activity is ordinary, like
seeing people go to work, waiting in a queue to catch a bus, standing outside the office and
smoking, buying a drink or a sandwich, chatting on the sidewalks, or watching young lovers
canoodle on a bench.”
Given the range of tourism experiences that can now be described as ‘creative’, some authors have
begun to identify a shift from cultural tourism to creative tourism. Jelinčić (2009) notes an increasing
splintering of cultural tourism as more creative activities are developed by tourists to match
fragmented postmodern lifestyles and D'Auria (2009) sees the rise of creative tourism as an
evolution of cultural tourism directed toward more engaged and authentic experiences. Fernandez
(2010) argues that the rise of models of creative tourism is due to an evolution of the tourism
EMERGING MODELS OF CREATIVE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT
In essence, the types of creative developments identified in tourism to date tend to fall into three
basic categories: creative spectacles, creative spaces and creative tourism (Richards & Wilson,
The growing importance of events in the contemporary network society is outlined in a growing
body of literature detailing the relationship between events, space and tourism (González Reverté &
Morales Pérez, 2009; Johnson, 2009; Richards & Palmer, 2010). Cities and rural spaces
increasingly host events that shape and are in turn shaped by their environment.
Events act as a concentrator in terms of time and space, forming important nodes in creative
networks and providing a direct link between creativity and tourism. Morgan (2007) describes these
processes in the case of the Sidmouth Festival in the UK, which provides a setting where
communities of enthusiasts can co-create extraordinary experiences. Similarly Prentice and
Anderson (2003) examine the role of the Edinburgh Festival as a ‘creative destination’ which
attracts a significant group of creative tourists with a specific interest in culture. Piaola (2008)
examined three Italian festivals and concluded that events can have a significant impact on local
creativity, particularly where they support local networks. In Japan, Hiroyuki (2003:228) sees the
rice transplanting ritual Mibu no Hana-taue as a creative ritual that has developed through tourism.
Crespi-Vallbona and Richards (2007) examined a range of festivals in Barcelona and found that
they had become creative spaces capable of renovating and reinvigorating local culture, both for
local residents and tourists. Events are therefore increasingly sources of creative experiences which
connect the global space of flows with the local space of places (Castells, 2009). It is not surprising
that a range of different studies has underlined the growing importance of events in developing
economic and cultural connectedness between places and communities (Chhabra et al., 2003;
Perhaps the most obvious physical manifestation of the relationship between tourism and creativity
is to be found in creative or cultural clusters. As explained above, clustering of creative activities is
driven by both production and consumption functions, with a Florida-like coincidence of creative
people, creative industries and a creative ‘buzz’. Sacco & Segre (2009:287) point to the growth of
‘cultural districts’ where ‘ culture is a source of prosperity and cosmopolitanism through international
events and centers of excellence, driving high growth business sectors such as creative industries,
commercial leisure and tourism’. These can become a form of ‘thirdspace’, or a “space of hybridity,
which is established by an interaction between different groups or individuals in a shared spatial
encounter” (Mommaas, 2009a, p. 3).
Creativity becomes a backdrop for ‘cool’ places, enlivened by the development of specific creative
industries, most notably film, fashion and design. These in turn provide the basis for new tourism
products in cities as diverse as Beijing (van der Borg et al., 2010), Berlin (Van Heur , 2008),
Johannesburg (Rogerson, 2007), Rome (Gemitti, 2007) and Seoul (Kim, 2007). In Barcelona
fashion and film have been turned into specific tourist products through the development of events,
cultural routes and themed spaces. Chilese & Russo (2008) describe the development of fashion-
related clusters in Barcelona, and a series of cultural routes related to film production have recently
been developed in the same city (www.barcelonamovie.com). Arthouse cinema can also become
the focus for creative tourism development, as Cazzetta (2010) describes in the case of the
Filmbyen cluster in Copenhagen, based on the Dogma film tradition. Russo & Aria Sans (2009) also
argue that students are becoming increasingly important shapers of space in cities as their numbers
grow and the provision of student housing in city centres begins to produce particular student-
related cultural scenes. Such processes are the object of specific intervention policies, as Meethan
& Beer (2007) describe in the case of Plymouth in the UK. The development of specific clusters can
also form part of a broader creative landscape. In the case of Istanbul Alvarez (2010) sees the
development of creative clusters as part of broader creative city approach, which is also aimed to
In many cases such creative landscapes and clusters undergo a process of evolution from original
grittiness and ruggedness to more urbane sophistication, with a corresponding change in residents
and tourist flows (Hannigan, 1998; Zukin, 2010). In East London Pappalapore (2010) examined the
development of different creative tourism clusters and found that previously touristically marginal
areas such as London Fields are gradually being incorporated into mainstream tourism through
processes of gentrification and art-led regeneration. Spitalfields is now an established off the-
beaten-track destination in East London that is starting to attract more mainstream tourists with its
alternative ‘atmosphere’ provided by independent shops, young artists, new fashions, and cultural
diversity. All these elements contribute to make the area seem distinctive, but at the same time
‘typically London’ (Pappalapore et al., 2010). Ethnic enclaves are also subject to similar pressures
of change as the composition of the ethnic population changes through successive waves of
migration and gentrification. This may cause problems of maintaining ‘authentic’ ethnic culture and
atmosphere (Shaw, 2007).
Although much of the research on creative spaces has concentrated on cities, Bell & Jayne (2010)
also point to the emergence of the ‘creative countryside’ and Paul Cloke (2007) underlines the
development of creativity as practice in rural tourism. Wojan, et al. (2007) trace the development of
rural ‘artistic havens’ that often started out as artist colonies but are now being transformed in
creative hubs, craft production centres and creative tourism destinations. Stolarick et al. (2010)
show how Prince Edward Country has become “Canada's First Creative Rural Economy Founded
by Pioneers, Artisans and Entrepreneurs” (Prince Edward County, 2011). Creative tourism is being
developed here as one strand in a creative class strategy that seems to have generated impressive
results, including a 74% increase in tourism visits and 168% increase in tourism revenues between
1999 and 2004.
In some places broader approaches to creativity and tourism have been incorporated into specific
creative tourism strategies. Particularly well-developed examples are found in locations such as
Nelson, New Zealand (www.creativetourism.co.nz) and Barcelona (www.barcelonacreativa.info),
which have been operating for a number of years. In the case of Creative Tourism New Zealand,
the creative tourism offer is built around a series of courses and workshops offered by local
artisans. In Barcelona the approach is related to the development of artistic links with other cities,
offering artists the opportunity to meet and collaborate with Barcelona-based colleagues. The idea
is that this form of creative exchange not only generates tourism activity through incoming visitors,
but also strengthens the creative vitality and international image of Barcelona. For this reason the
programme is supported by the economic development division of the city government. In the City
of Santa Fe in New Mexico, a comprehensive range of creative tourism experiences has been
developed (www.santafecreativetourism.org). This initiative sprang out of the UNESCO Creative
Cities programme, which also organized an international conference on creative tourism in the city
in 2008 (Wurzburger et al., 2010). Creative tourism strategies have also been applied in more
conventional tourism destinations, such as the Algarve region of Portugal (Ferreira & Costa, 2006;
Rodrigues Gonçalves, 2010).
Creative tourism can also form part of wider creative industries strategies, as in the case of the
‘Creative Austria’ programme. One spin-off from this programme has been the establishment of
Creative Tourism Austria (http://www.creativetourism.at/). Singapore has also begun to position
itself as a creative hub in Asia, also using tourism as a vehicle for creative development (Ooi, 2007).
Recently the ‘Nordic Model’ of experience development in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden
has seen many destinations adopt policies which combine culture, tourism and creativity into an
overall system of experience production and consumption. As Cazzetta (2010: 9-10) notes, the
definition of creative industries in the Nordic region tends to be very broad, encompassing sport,
tourism, toys and theme parks, within the experience economy. This fusion has meant that
“a new form of economy has emerged. An economy based on rising demand for experiences that
build on the added value creativity generates both in new and more traditional products and
services” (Danish Government, 2003:8). This model of experience development also seems closely
aligned to the development of creative tourism, as Lindroth et al. (2007) and Miettinen (2009) show
in the case of Finland and Kvistgaard (2008) illustrates in the case of Denmark.
THE CREATIVE TOURISM DEBATE
There has been much debate on the ‘creative turn’, and whether the current vogue for creativity is a
hype or a valuable development strategy. This debate also seems to be emerging in the creative
tourism field as well. Those who have identified the advantages of creative tourism (e.g. Richards
and Raymond, 2000; Richards and Wilson, 2007) tend to point to a number of features that
distinguish creative tourism from more conventional forms, such as the avoidance of serial
reproduction, the potential for more freedom and more meaningful experiences for the tourist and
the development of a more equal relationship between tourist and host. Creative tourism
approaches also arguably provide the potential for the development of new narratives, meanings
and identities in tourist destinations.
To date, however, there has been limited empirical research on the effects of creative tourism.
Research by ATLAS in 2004 indicated that only around 5% of cultural visitors in Europe saw their
holidays as ‘creative’ (ATLAS, 2011). This indicates that creative tourism is likely to remain as a
niche within cultural tourism in the foreseeable future. A recent study by Barcelona Turisme Creatiu
(2010) indicated that cultural organizations in the city had hosted almost 14,000 creative tourists in
2010, with an estimated expenditure of €2.8 million. This is significant as an alternative form of
tourism, but still dwarfed by the city’s mainstream cultural tourism industry, which attracts millions of
visitors a year (Font, 2005).
A similar absence of hard evidence has also stimulated criticism of creativity-based development
strategies in general (Hartley, 2007; Pratt, 2008), particularly as more places have taken up the
ideas of Florida, Landry and other creativity ‘gurus’ (Atkinson & Easthope, 2009). Creativity can be
seen as a particularly virulent form of ‘fast policy’ (Peck, 2005) which is often adopted because of its
attractiveness to policy makers. These criticisms could also apply more specifically to the field of
creative tourism, depending on the manner and context in which this is being developed. Richards
and Wilson (2007) show that there is a weak relationship between Florida’s indices of creativity and
the development of tourism, and they also indicate that creativity has become a hype in many
different destinations, and that key consultants and academics have been important in feeding this
hype. There are also problems in managing creativity, as the spontaneous nature of much creative
activity does not lend itself easily to planning, top-down management or tourist schedules (e.g.
Suutari et al., 2010). Many have therefore suggested that creativity should be encouraged to
emerge from the bottom up, through ‘natural’ rather than externally created clusters (Scott, 2006).
But as Miles (2010) notes intervention is needed, because creative tourists are not just passively
consuming the city, but actively engaging with it to produce their own experiences. This puts the
onus on destinations to encourage active involvement of the tourist, but “at the present, creative
tourism is more of an aspiration than a reality” (p. 62).
One of the problems in developing active involvement of tourists in the everyday creative life of the
destination is the extent to which this facilitates the extension of commodification. Lengkeek (1996),
following Habemas, has identified the development of tourism as part of a progressive ‘colonisation
of the lifeworld’, as tourism appropriates the ‘exotic’ and renders it as everyday experience to be
traded in the marketplace. This process has already been well charted in cultural tourism (e.g.
Russo, 2002), but in creative tourism it takes on a new dimension because it tends to involve more
elements of everyday life and the intangible, embedded culture of the host community. It remains to
be seen if creative tourism experiences become ‘homogenised’, as suggested by Edensor (2000) or
if the inherent creativity of communities and individuals will enable them to co-create new lived
spaces as Cloke (2007) suggests. The outcome may depend on the ability of producers and
consumers to maintain the embeddedness of tacit creative knowledge, which will continue to
stimulate tourists and hosts to co-create knowledge and skills through negotiated co-presence.
As in many other disciplines, creativity has increasingly become a focus of attention for tourism
scholars in recent years. Although the concept of creativity remains elusive to define, it has been
integrated into tourism in a range of different forms, via creative people, products, processes and
places. This creative wave has been driven by both productive and consumption-related forces,
including the growth of the experience economy, the need to valorise culture and the postmodern
fragmentation of demand.
The growth of creative approaches to tourism can also be linked to the various strategies to create
distinctive places, including the promotion of creative industries, creative cities and the creative
class. Arguably these different strategies manifest themselves concretely through the absorption of
creative production and consumption into specific creative clusters. These nodes in creative
networks can link the various creative industries and creative people with tourism, anchoring flows
of knowledge, images and power in specific local spaces. The growth of cultural and creative
events has also served to provide a particular concentration of creativity in time and space which is
also extremely attractive to tourists and others in search of co-presence (Richards, 2010).
Creativity provides activity, content and atmosphere for tourism, and tourism in turn supports
creative activities. The growing integration of tourism and creativity is evident in the treatment of
tourism as a creative industry. This integration has also led some to identify a specific form of
‘creative tourism’, which involves the co-creation of participative, ‘authentic’ experiences that allow
people to develop their creative potential and skills through contact with local people and culture.
Specific creative tourism initiatives have sprung up in a range of places, including major cities and
artistic havens in rural areas. These types of initiatives are often based on the idea of providing an
alternative to the serial reproduction that affects much cultural tourism, and they are often
spearheaded by ‘lifestyle entrepreneurs’ trying to generate economic capital from their creative
Creative tourism is therefore often seen as a development of cultural tourism, which has arguably
become increasingly mainstream over the years. The irony is that creative tourism, in apparently
offering an alternative to mass cultural tourism, may be far more effective in spearheading new
forms of commodification. The object of commodification shifts from the tangible heritage long
valorised through cultural tourism towards the intangible culture of everyday life, leading to a further
‘colonisation of the lifeworld’ (Lengkeek, 1996). It also seems that notions of ‘authenticity’ are
shifting in models of creative tourism. The material and contextual forms of authenticity so important
in the tangible heritage of cultural tourism is being replaced by more conceptual forms of
authenticity which are judged according to the concept of the original performer or maker (Ex &
Lengkeek, 1996). In the co-creation of creative tourism experiences, conceptual authenticity is
arguably negotiated in situ by the host and the tourist, each playing a role as the originator of the
experience. This also represents a shift from the externally-defined forms of distinction so prevalent
in cultural tourism towards a more internal, skills-based model of distinction.
The intensity of such participative models of creative tourism makes it unlikely that it will move into
the mass market of cultural tourism. However, creativity may well play an important part in
mainstream tourism experiences by adding to the atmosphere of places, forming part of the ‘buzz’
apparently so important to attracting the creative class. In view of this complexity perhaps creative
tourism is not a coherent ‘niche’ at all, but rather a series of creative practices linking production,
consumption and place. The creativity involved in creative tourism is also not limited to a single
actor, such as the tourists themselves, but involves the creative interplay of producers, consumers,
policy makers and landscapes to develop embedded creativity in tourism experiences.
The evolving relationship between creativity and tourism may therefore force us to re-think some
important aspects of contemporary tourism. In particular, the dichotomous roles of the tourist as
sovereign chooser or unfortunate dupe are eroded by the creative interplay of different actors and
contexts in the making and performance of tourism experiences. Tourists not only visit places, they
also make them, and the point of creative tourism should be to ensure that co-makership happens
through an exchange of skills and knowledge with those who are visited.
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o Statement of Contribution:
1. What is the contribution to knowledge, theory, policy or practice offered by the
This paper provides a state of the art review of the relationship between tourism and
creativity. It brings together a wide range of sources from different fields which deal with the
issue of creativity. It also charts the development of creative tourism as a new field of
tourism development and research activity.
2. How does the paper offer a social science perspective / approach?
In reviewing the multidisciplinary field of creativity, many different social science
perspectives on tourism and creativity are examined. The literature reviewed is drawn mainly
from the social sciences, including many contributions from Annals of Tourism Research,
but also from fields such as sociology, geography and urban studies.
Models of creative tourism production and consumption
experiences and products