So the evolution is upon us. The new tourist is looking for an intangible experience. The traveler is using their experience, knowledge and hefty disposable income in their selection of tourism destination. Moreover, the new tourist is looking for destinations that offer authenticity and uniqueness rather than a mass product that can be found anywhere. Also, these tourists are head over heels with destinations that offer distinct products and services which can use technology to amply market themselves and prevent that digital communication divide that separates producers, tourists and the destination from each other.
So what’s the solution?
Creative tourism. This is a relatively new niche to destination markets worldwide. Creative tourism stems from cultural tourism. Richards and Raymonds (2000) dubbed creative tourism as “ tourism which offers visitors the opportunity to develop their creative potential through active participation in courses and learning experiences which are characteristic of the holiday destination where they are undertaken.”
Other destinations are already making the change. Thailand offers “discover the new you,” with tag lines like “amazing Thailand always amazes you.” Their packages tap into the originality of tradition and skill in Thailand and offer a variety of Thai specific activities; Muay Thai Training, Thai cooking classes, rice Farming lessons, Thai performing arts classes, Thai massage teachings, craft and weaving lessons.
So does Trinidad and Tobago have what it takes to compete with other destinations?
Let me help you out, we are the most cultured and diverse population in the Caribbean and by extension the world. So are we too far gone and a byproduct of our western hemisphere and American counter parts? Of course NOT! Take a look around people, it seems like creative tourism has been around us all our lives, in our communities, in our and homes constantly the driving force behind our development and the pinnacle of a real “Trinbagonian” definition. Our culinary secrets and tapestries of art, craft, architecture, music, pottery, jewellery and fashion are just a few of the many niches that are readily available for us to package and market to the world.
Everybody can benefit from creative tourism. Unlike cultural tourism which focuses on more public packages these are specific and entail small groups. The trickle down and multiplier effect in the economy goes directly to the producer. There are more linkages than leakages because the money is retained in the host country. There is ownership of the product and services by the community. Consequently, this has notions for empowerment of a local people who are more than just sellers but teachers in their field of expertise. Also, there is opportunity for sustainable development of the products and services since they are developed and distributed on smaller scales. Tourists have the greater advantages of learning new skills, a sense of achievement and a profound attachment to the destination since there is a more satisfying experience than just active participation by feeling a sense of belonging communicated by locals and strong connections to the community.
Hmm, it seems like we have the necessary resources, the authenticity, the diversity of culture and the ancestral blessing of creativity pulsing through the veins of every “Trinbagonian.” So what are we waiting for Trinidad and Tobago? The clock is ticking are we going to stay behind or LEAD the race as one of the popular Caribbean tourism destinations?
The choice is yours…. My opinion is simply here to stimulate thought….
Are we in it to win it?!