What if we stopped talking about tourism?

What if, instead, we started talking about curiosity, empathy, artistic passion, transformative experiences – in other words, going back to the very essence of travel, and get to know the Other as well as ourselves?
Then, tourism would merely be the industry in charge of logistical issues and providing material, technological, and human means to people who are searching for discovery and meaningful experiences. Technologies and architecture would be both the resources and the products of human innovation in all its glory, all over the world. They would be a way to connect, amaze, and excel.

In this context, humans stop being intermediaries between tourists and heritage. They become the heritage themselves.

As utopic as it sounds when talking about an industry, this idea is nothing but today’s reality – or at least, what’s next for the tourism sector, where we witness a growing trend towards intangible values, which creates a demand that is as unique as it is versatile.
If this is indeed today’s reality, then it’s urgent to become aware of it – such disruption isn’t easily manageable. This paradigm shift requires us to speak with travellers, to really listen to them, so that we understand their specific needs and desires and can fulfil them properly.
This creates new challenges, including working and cooperating with all tourism players at all levels – “dream-makers”, artisans, artists, and anyone who feels fulfilled by sharing their knowledge and traditions.

It is worth it. Opportunities, in terms of knowledge development, territorial dynamization, attractivity, and sustainability are endless. Besides the specific demand that generated it in the first place (Richards, Raymond, 2000), creative tourism is now becoming the Swiss army knife of this new form of tourism, where creativity, destination management, and territorial dynamization are so intertwined.
It is, in a way, a common instrument for new economies, such as experiential, creative, circular, knowledge and intangible economies, among others.

The list of new words and ideas for tourism experiences grows longer by the day – “experiential tourism”, “transformational tourism”, “slow tourism”… But the message remains the same: we need to stop talking about tourism and start betting on the human dimension. Let’s aim for sustainability and universal friendship.

– Caroline COURET, Director of the Creative Tourism Network®.