“The search for meaning corresponds to an intimate impulse that translates into a predilection for more authentic and genuine experiences, a more relaxed sociability, a preference for creative activities and a search for contexts that promote the manifestation of spirituality.”
It is with these words that in the reflection “Small scale tourism for more meaningful experiences”, Professor Doutor Francisco Dias, professor and Researcher in Tourism at the Polytechnic of Leiria and Director of ART & TUR, concludes an analysis made regarding the transformation of the tourism sector at the moment Covid-19 powders in the world. As a co-researcher of the CREATOUR network, Creative Tourism Network of Portugal, a research project by Nancy Duxbury’s PhD, developed in parallel with 4 Universities throughout Portugal, I am pleased to say about the words of Francisco Dias, who are a a common desire, for a miraculous social transformation, which, like Fenix, appears with a new spiritual impetus that changes the way people see, interpret and consume destinations, experiences and tourist products in a future after Covid-19.
The social disconnection that we have been experiencing for about 50 days in some European countries, causes a regression in the individuals’ capacity for expression and sensory perception, due to the continued isolation and the absence of new stimuli. The sporadic reunion with long-confined individuals is an experience somewhat different from the usual, conveying a need to adapt to the environment and the way we relate, in the eyes, in the speech, and in the absence of the kiss, the embrace and the touch.
Creative tourism, being the result of eminently sensory experiences that appeal to the 5 senses plus intuition, is the contrast that may bring some balance to this global social hangover. The opportunity to position the experience and experience of tourism products of nano-tourism and social and human relations 1×1, allows the possibility of a positioning and sustainable management of micro businesses, young people, families and small entrepreneurs who in their local circuit develop their activities professionals.
From gastronomy, ceramics, illustration, painting, drawing, sensory walks or even birdwatching, these activities in which the relationship between individuals presupposes learning can be the answer to this paradigm post-covid-19 hangover which will allow greater environmental, social and economic sustainability for each community. The example of the city of Caldas da Rainha, UNESCO’s creative city in Crafts and Folk Arts, the social dynamics of the experience is manifested in the daily life of the community in the regularity of ceramic workshops, illustration, theater, puppets, painting, drawing, among others that in the geographical scope of an average provincial city with 30 thousand inhabitants, it sustainably supports the sporadic existence of these initiatives that are organized by the local creative community. It is a city of arts and culture, long associated with the existence of the oldest Thermal Hospital in the world in continuous operation, however creative tourism, a product of the experience sector as a means of cultural communication, presupposes an investment capacity of significant time on the part of the tourist, as well as a distinct sensitivity to the valorization of artistic experiences conveyed by the learning of know-how.
Successful cases in this analysis are the strategy of VisaBeira, a company that manages the oldest and largest Portuguese ceramic companies such as Vista Alegre, SPAL and Bordallo Pinheiro, and which have recently been recovered to associate the manufacturing tradition, transforming it into a tourist product that can leverage 5-star hotel units in places not always sought after as tourist demand destinations. The case of Hotel Montebello de Ilhavo, near Aveiro in Portugal, is one of those success stories. It is important to know how small business owners and family micro-companies from all over the world will be able, in this context of social recovery and paradigm shift, to have the ability to communicate with a new tourist who may need to consume new services and experiences that until now were aimed at small niches of society.
It remains to be seen whether Google Babylon will allow the sustainability of the families of artisans and micro-companies that make creativity their business sector. Will tourism allow the leverage of new business for tourist experiences? Will cities prioritize consumption time over time consumption? Will these moments of silence bring us new answers if we ask new questions?