Introducing our first series of design insights – exploring the engagement of tourism channels with crafts-based experiences.

Creating engaging craft experiences for tourists is becoming an increasingly popular and effective way for crafts-based social enterprises (CBSEs) to bring increased awareness of their people and processes, as well as the social, cultural and environmental challenges their enterprise seeks to address.

Throughout this insight series we will look at CBSE’s who actively engage consumers with their production processes through tourism activities. These activities include guided production tours, home-stays, craft classes, retail experiences and more. Here, the consumer fills the role of tourist, moving from a place of comfort and familiarity, to a different, less familiar context, effectively bringing together the world of the producer and the curiosity of the consumer.

Bringing together the world of the producer and curiosity of the consumer

Allowing tourists to engage directly with the supply chain provides not only the opportunity to share knowledge and raise awareness of the creative process, but also awareness of the contextual influences that help shape both the product and social enterprise.

Contextual influences may include:

  • Environmental characteristics : for example, a remote or rural location with limited access to advanced materials and technologies and reliance on locally sourced materials.
  • Cultural influences : such as the utilisation of traditional craft knowledge and presence of culturally significant decorative elements;
  • Social influences : the provision of work to address inequalities and disadvantages present in the current context.

This list provides only a handful of examples, but already demonstrates the diversity of contextual influences that CBSE’s acknowledge, address and raise awareness of, throughout their creative process.

Each insight provided by our Craft Network members explores different methods of engaging tourism with craft experiences. As a result, we discover that the tourist / consumer experience provides a deeper understanding of the impact their purchases have, and a greater awareness of the contextual challenges the CBSE aims to address.

Feature image by Africa!Ignite | Women gathering grasses for weaving, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

Posted by:Alexandra Sommer