Bali’s tourism industry has undergone a serious makeover since the Netherlands started promoting tourism in the Colonial era. Over the last decades, tourist numbers have increased considerably and cultural tourism has transformed into mass tourism. While this development has brought welfare, it also led to a vulnerable economy over-dependent on tourism, unequal distribution of income, commoditization of culture, pollution, waste problems and water scarcity. Bali has started to address these issues and established the Community-Based Tourism Association Bali (CoBTA) which develops tourism in rural areas to improve their welfare. The organization recommends villages to engage in creative tourism to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive community-based tourism market.
Manuela Blapp’s thesis at the NHTV Master of Arts Tourism Destination Management, used the two overlapping concepts, community-based tourism and creative tourism. Community-based tourism aims to involve local communities in the tourism development, maximize the benefits for locals and bring tourists closer to villagers. However, success has been rare and achievements small. Creative tourism is a more (inter)active successor of cultural tourism. It is about active consumption of living, intangible culture, interaction between hosts and guests and self-expression of tourists. Theory shows several synergies between creative tourism and community-based tourism, suggesting that creative tourism in villages may lead to tourism which is profitable in the long run and has a socially and culturally responsible outlook.
However, research of creative tourism has focused on cities in developed countries and the understanding of creative tourism in rural areas is lacking. Gaps in the literature show that knowledge is required particularly on how to develop creative products in villages without commoditizing the everyday life of locals.
Analysis of the data revealed four core themes of creative tourism in rural areas: the everyday life of locals in tourism products, sharing the everyday life with tourists, meaningful interaction between hosts and guests and cultural learning experiences for hosts and guests. Based on several positive and negative synergies between the two concepts, it is shown that in sum, creative tourism is a promising concept for villages if certain requirements are fulfilled.
Read the original article: Thesis publication: Creative Tourism in Bali’s Rural Communities