In recent decades tourism and the creative industries have been seen as major drivers of economic growth in both the developed and emerging economies. However, the Covid-19 Pandemic brought an abrupt halt to growth in both sectors, with a recent UNESCO report revealing a loss of 10 million jobs in the creative industries to add to the 62 million jobs lost in tourism. As the UNESCO report points out, a large proportion of the job losses in the creative sector are due to the unstable and underregulated nature of much creative work. As a recent OECD report notes:
Employment and income support measures are not always accessible or adapted to the new and non-standard forms of employment (freelance, intermittent, hybrid – e.g. combining salaried part-time work with freelance work) that tend to be more precarious and are more common in CCS.
The report also notes that these problems may last for some time:
Over the medium term, the anticipated lower levels of international and domestic tourism, drop in purchasing power, and reductions of public and private funding for arts and culture, especially at the local level, could amplify this negative trend even further.
Of course, the main challenge for the cultural and creative sectors remains finding stable, long-term sources of income. On the one hand this means more consistent public sector policies for culture, and on the other hand making better use of the synergies that exist between culture, the creative industries and other sectors. One possibility is to develop the synergies with tourism in a more creative and structural way. As the OECD report further notes this means growth models moving away from culture-based large-scale tourism towards models fostering cross-innovation between CCS and traditional manufacturing and services (e.g. design and furniture making) that can be incorporated into creative tourism programmes.
The UNESCO report echoes this sentiment, underlining the future opportunities that lie in:
redefining tourism management to advance local community empowerment and responsible tourism by
[i]nvolving the whole destination in urban planning and destination management through the participation of local communities and the private/public sectors, ensuring the opinions of residents are reflected as the bearers of traditions and cultural expressions rooted in their daily lives.
Taken together these ideas plead from a more holistic approach to the relationship between culture, tourism and local communities, ensuring that cultural tourism is viewed as an isolated area of consumption, but as a broad-based system of co-creation between different sectors and between residents and locals. Collaboration between culture and tourism is important, because the tourism sector has been even more hard-hit than the cultural sector.
Creative tourism in Thailand
The future development of cultural and creative tourism will depend on adopting models that provide value both to tourists and to local communities, who in the collaborative economy are increasingly also co-producers of tourism experiences. After the pandemic, Reinventing the Local for Tourism will need to become Co-creating the Local for All.