Photo from Gabrovo courtesy of REMO Etar, the Museum
As a non-profit organization, the Creative Tourism Network has been supporting destinations worldwide and their local stakeholders, including travel companies, entrepreneurs, artists and craftsmen, to adapt their offer to the new contingencies of COVID-19 by creating value from existing resources.
Caroline Couret, founder of the Creative Tourism Network, told Travel Courier that the organization, “is concretely offering free remote training, assessment and promotion, to design experiences able to fit with staycations in the short-term, and of course, to shape a sustainable model for the future.”
Gearing up for World Tourism Day on Sept. 27, the Network is also focusing its efforts on promoting the unique local experiences available across its destinations.
“Concretely, during this day, the destinations will invite the local population to participate in a wide choice of creative experiences allowing them to rediscover their intangible heritage, by living a unique experience and becoming official ambassadors of their territory,” Couret says.
Here are a few recent examples of how its members have found creative ways to keep business alive during the pandemic…
In order to maintain economic activity during the lockdown, several craftsmen and artisans from the Magdalen Islands took part in the “Discovery Boxes of the Magdalen Islands.”
The boxes featured products and goods made in the destination such as bath bombs, tea and candles. People from around the world who were not able to visit this year, could still enjoy the culture and lifestyle of the area by purchasing or gifting a box, which helped support the local economy.
The Greater Medellin Convention & Visitors Burear and Medellín City Council are providing tools in order to include the citizenry, the crafts, agriculture and creative industries in the design of new tourist products, aimed at locals for the first time.
In Aranjuez (northeast of the city), there is a community traditionally formed by migrant families that built their houses in an old municipal dump, which has been transformed into one of the biggest flower gardens of the city. For example, Moravia Tours sold packs for participants of its annual Flowers Parade to celebrate from home instead.
Overall, the destination is supporting the growth of community tourism, which appeals to travellers who are interested in local culture and traditions such as gastronomy, folklore, and other cultural manifestations.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, different trends point to the fact that tourism will initially be through domestic tourism and road trips that do not involve long distances, in which nature, outdoor places, and the recognition of one’s territory will be key.
Photo courtesy: Creative Tourism Network
Several organizations gathered to create a creative tourism program in order to attract national or local visitors, by designing experiences that enable them to empower local stakeholders.
The Municipality of Barcelos has been supporting local handicraft, one of the identity factors that most contributes to the international recognition and distinction in the field of pop art and creative tourism (as a Creative City of UNESCO, Creative Friendly Destination and Sustainable Tourism European Award).
Handicraft and its creative community are, to Barcelos, a differential factor and an essential element of attractiveness and national and international notoriety, like in no other municipality in Portugal.
In response, a set of measures and activities to support the creative cluster was put forward…
Photo courtesy: REMO Etar, the Museum
In this regard, the Municipality moved forward with a process of acquisition of artworks to each craftsman/artisanal production unit that lives exclusively from craftsmanship income.
The aim is to reinforce the support for the artisan community that lives exclusively from crafts and has no other source of income.
These are measures that Barcelos, as a Creative City of UNESCO, presents in order to, in short and medium term, contribute to the sustainability of the Creativity Cluster, creative tourism and handicraft and increase the ratios of sustainability of the sector agents. On the other hand, the purchased artworks will serve as a product of promotion, and the provided supports in the framework of OSAC (Operational Support to Artisanal Community) and PISHB (Promotional Incentive System to the Handicraft of Barcelos) as a reinforcement of creative tourism and promotion of the same territory, in a very centered commitment and to make creativity an argument of sustainable development.
The Municipality of Barcelos promoted a cycle of handicraft micro-fairs, every Thursday of August, at Largo da Porta Nova, which aims to supply the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the economic activities that suffered most from the pandemic: handicrafts.
As Barcelos is a territory with a very strong cultural and ethnological identity, with a large number of artisans and a wide variety of arts and crafts, of which, for its importance, pottery, this initiative aims to support and promote this sector and contribute to the economic increase of its agents.
Each fair consisted of six artisans, on a rotating basis, covering as many artisans as possible.
The Barcelos Municipality launched a video entitled “Descobrir Barcelos” (Discovering Barcelos), a new communicative support with the purpose of divulging the municipality of Barcelos in all its splendour.
The Tourism and Handicraft Office of the Municipality promotes, by appointment, workshops of creative experiences of the different arts and traditional crafts of the municipality with the collaboration of artisans of different artistic expressions, for audiences of all ages.
One of the last creative workshops held in the Medieval Tower was a workshop of Rooster Painting with the participation of a local craftsman, with a group from tourism operator Explore Iberia.
During Saturdays in August, the Medieval Tower was open to the public at night. This activity gave the opportunity to experience this monument in a completely different way, always complying with all the hygiene and safety rules for visiting the space. The activity contributed to a greater impetus of the tourist and cultural dimension of the city of Barcelos at the time of the full pandemic, opening doors to a unique experience, not only for the local community, but also for all those who choose Barcelos as a focal point for their visit.