This is a response to Manuela Blapp’s article: Creative tourism in Bali’s rural communities
The thesis of Manuela Blapp is embedded in creative tourism. Contemporary case studies in sustainable tourism (ST) are calling for the importance of new forms of addressing sustainability in tourism (Moscardo 2015). Is creative tourism such a new form or is it merely a marketing concept welcomed by policy makers (Richards & Marques, 2012)? Moscardo pointed out, that tourism is still an economically driven concept with major failures (Moscardo, 2015). Which benefits could come from creative tourism for sustainability and community development when language is action (Bodiford & Camargo-Borges, 2104) and the term creativity would be fully respected and not generally defined as a novel combination of old ideas (Boden, 1994)?
Most people relate creativity to art. So it is not surprising, that the offers in “creative tourism” are art-related events and entertainment. Tourists are invited to visit art exhibitions, concerts or workshops with, for example, an expert who teaches them how to make bouquets of flowers. It is possible to choose between experts who teach us or to be entertained by such artistic events. Art goes further, however.
Art is not reduced to a pre-existing state. Art is free. The process of aesthetic autonomy changes the perspective. It is no longer a mirror of God’s creation or an illustration of religious truth. Art does not have to serve somebody, neither to specific authorities nor to specific systems or organizations. Art questions our ordinary understanding and shows its interpretation while art itself is an interpretation (Jacoby, 2004). Art is related to beauty and aesthetic. Aesthetic is derived from the word aisthesis, which means “with the senses” ––a perception by the senses––in modern Greek. In ancient Greek it means “to breathe.” Beauty can take our breath away. Beauty affects us and touches us. Perceiving and sensing is an active and dynamic process, an active participation and not a passive position. Beuys said “everyone is an artist.” An art-oriented process within the discipline of the arts offers tourists and hosts an active part in an aesthetic and creative process. An aesthetic process opens up new experiences, despite the colour of our skin, our educational background, economical power or academic degree.
In this interpretation, creative tourism turns to its origins of creativity, art and aesthetics. It can become a community based activity that offers a “play-space” to co-create new meanings and new experiences (Kriz, 2002; Gergen & Gergen, 2004), for Balinese villagers as well as for Westerners.