Creative Tourism and Sustainable Territories

Cover of Creative Tourism and Sustainable Territories

Insights From Southern Europe



Table of contents

(11 chapters)

This chapter pinpoints a chronological and thematic literature review on the concept of Creative Tourism. Even if the concept emerged 21 years ago, its definition keeps being discussed, and different approaches are available. Born in the late 1990s, it developed rapidly due to a very open, flexible and local context design, enabling the development of personal capacity, authentic experiences and involving local culture and communities. This new approach to tourism envisages bringing together local people, their habits and practices in real and everyday contexts to the heart of the tourism experience provided to visitors. Therefore, it looks to be a promising path towards sustainability. Keeping this in mind, one can wonder if Creative Tourism can be a lever for territories' economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability. In particular, can Creative Tourism's growing importance in Southern Europe be considered a major contribution to the sustainability of those territories? The literature review concludes that most of the studies on Creative Tourism take positive impacts on territories as a kind of ‘belief’. Such an effect is not granted as a beneficial impact on a communities' well-being; it does not result just from the type of resources explored or from the participation of members of the community on the products/services supplied.


This chapter explores the role of Creative Tourism in territorial development, highlighting the differences between urban and rural territories. The dynamics of creative development and tourism must be assumed as an advantage for rural territories in times of exhaustion of the growth model of large cities, climate change and COVID-19 disease. This is a new scenario that these territories must profit from, as they continue to face challenges to capture investment, tourists and to offer sustainable models. Urban studies of creative industries and initiatives have been taking place in big cities for several decades now, marginalising small cities and, more specifically, rural areas. Some examples at an international level are highlighted in this chapter, with Southern Europe specifically in focus. Therefore, Creative Tourism appears as a key development option for distinct reasons and aims. First, it answers to the need for tourism to reinvent 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. However, which role can each type of territory play in the present, and how can these territories reach development through Creative Tourism?


Considering the economic potential of festivals to Creative Tourism, this chapter discusses the potential of the small-scale ones for rural development. It reviews worldwide small-scale festivals and engages them with creative activities, presenting the results of some of the small-scale festivals that occur in Southern Europe. It explores the impacts of a small-scale festival on the development of a medium-sized city or a rural area and the challenges they must face in the future. Furthermore, it deals with what kind of new offer can be developed in order to make these territories more sustainable. In this context, Southern Europe plays an important role due to its rich historical heritage that can diversify the offer and the type of experience, being an excellent opportunity to promote the preservation of those at risk of disappearing. This chapter uses primary and secondary data. A geodatabase was created to understand South European festivals on Creative Tourism. Examples from Italy, Greece, Slovenia and Portugal were analysed.


This chapter explores some examples of good and not-so-good practices implemented worldwide, especially in Southern Europe, in Creative Tourism activities developed by entrepreneurs. The case studies used in the present chapter are located either in urban territories, small cities or rural areas. The global market introduces some difficulties in achieving good practices, highlighting the need to improve solid partnerships. The support from private and public sectors to institutions and enterprises developing creative tourism activities is analysed. Administrative and economic difficulties are also considered, and some proposals for the future survival of institutions and enterprises. In a global market, the definition of clusters is playing an increasing role in the survival of local and regional economies. In the tourism market, where seasonality is also a significant problem with difficult resolution, creating clusters can also be a great tool to contradict this. However, the success of implementing clusters in the tourism market depends on strong leadership and in-depth monitoring of results planned to be achieved. The present chapter considers clustering in Creative Tourism and the difficulties of implementing it in South Europe. Cultural and organisational issues are highlighted, as well as the need to construct thematic clusters that feature the needs of tourists.


This chapter provides the results of the motivations and the profile of the creative tourist. Results originate from the major studies done worldwide, concerned with the different types of activities. This analysis is essential to design new products based on Creative Tourism and sustainability. Also, because at an international level, including South Europe, the profile of the creative tourist has not been characterised, especially the one that visits medium-sized cities and rural areas. This chapter intends to answer the following questions: Who is the participant in Creative Tourism activities? Is he/she mainly domestic or an international tourist? Why does this type of tourist participate in these creative experiences? What type of information sources do these tourists use to find the experiences in which he/she participates? This chapter uses primary and secondary data. The secondary data follow a content analysis approach of activities offered by Airbnb Experiences Platform. Regarding the primary data, 595 questionnaires applied in 45 creative experiences in the Northern region of mainland Portugal were analysed. The creative experiences were divided into seven categories: ‘creative festivals’, ‘nature and creativity’, ‘photography workshop’, ‘gastronomy experience’, ‘industrial experience’, ‘technology and creativity’ and ‘art and crafts’. The methods used were quantitative in nature. The questionnaire used consisted of 31 closed questions aimed at the profile and the motivations of the creative experience participants. Descriptive statistical analysis was used. The main results showed that participants in the seven categories of Creative Tourism experiences have relatively large differences in terms of demographic and socio-economic characteristics. These differences were also evident in their motivations for participating in Creative Tourism experiences.


Geotechnologies have a long tradition in several areas of society and research. The recent development of the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies opened several doors to the contribution of tourism. Emergent technologies contributions to tourism and planning such as web mapping, augmented reality (AR), crowdsourcing and crowdsensing are relatively recent, and there is a lack of research around their potential for Creative Tourism enhancement. For example, combining web mapping with AR or storytelling can be an excellent contribution to operators, planners and tourists. For research purposes, new opportunities are open, particularly by integrating community-shared data. It is well known for the popularity of social networks, the exponential growth of photo sharing, but few studies have been implemented to understand their contribution to research. This chapter focuses on emerging geotechnologies concerning cultural mapping, Creative Tourism and sustainability. Since it is a new growing niche, more research is needed to develop and understand the potential of new approaches. Besides traditional techniques such as quantitative (e.g. surveys) and qualitative ones (e.g. interviews, focus groups and world café), it revises the role of geotechnologies on Creative Tourism development and growing activities. Results from case studies from Europe are analysed.


Although there are not data to attest to the growth of various Creative Tourism experiences worldwide, the expectation of their increase is consistent with the strength of the nowadays markets and the strategies and changes needed to sustain this growth at the twenty-first century. So, it will be relevant to follow the new trends, changes and challenges that will shape the future path of Creative Tourism. In the context of the European Union, economic prosperity and well-being should respond to twin digital and green transitions that should prepare society to mitigate problems that arise from pandemic situations, such as the recent COVID-19. How do we follow new and future experiences, and how can institutions be positioned without jeopardising the massification of this segment? As with cultural tourism, this segment of creative initiatives can and should develop ways to avoid these possible mass derivations and adjust the preservation of its sustainability in the future. What strategy needs to be adapted so that future risks of vulgarisation will be avoided even within the possible new trends? What will be the role of the Southern European countries? This final chapter envisages promoting critical thinking about the role of Creative Tourism for local and regional development. The discussion focuses on how to prevent massification and how to respond to new challenges and saturated formulas and in accordance with the digital area of the twenty-first century. Also, it promotes some solutions based on short-term strategies to be outlined and on a TIN (Think, Integrate and Network) model, which can be replicated in many countries in Europe and in the rest of the world.

Cover of Creative Tourism and Sustainable Territories
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