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A new future for ancient crafts?

In a paper just published in the Brazilian Creative Industries Journal, I examine how tourism has developed an increasingly symbiotic relationship with crafts. Craft production in many places is geared to providing low cost souvenirs for cheap tourists, which produces a downward spiral of reduced quality, deskilling and replacement of local craft products by imported manufactured goods. Arguably, this can be replaced by a virtuous cycle of local embedding, pride in local skills and increased economic yield, providing the right approach is taken.

Creative tourism experience organised by DASTA in Thailand

I would argue that craft should regain its position in the creative industries, with a revaluation of creative and artistic skills. Crafts currently occupy an ambiguous position between art and tradition, which problematises their relationship with the creative industries. one means of regaining this position is the development of creative tourism experiences. Creative tourism can help to create a personal link between the craftsperson, their skills and the visitor, increasing their appreciation of the crafting process. The paper reviews the role of craft in creative tourism, including case studies from Brazil, Finland, and Thailand, to examine how tourism can support the creative development of crafts. This analysis indicates that craft can be an important aspect of creative tourism development in different contexts and can provide a strong basis for placemaking initiatives.

This was also the subject of a conference organised by the European section of the World Crafts Council last November. A subsequent discussion on this subject was held on Academia, attracting comments and suggestions from researchers around the world, some of which have been incorporated into the final version of the paper.

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