This dissertation seeks to produce an experience-based intervention in the field of tourism on a global and a local scale. The aim is to rethink the conditions of tourism in Aarhus by articulating the traditional stereotype relations between tourists and locals. To do so, we are taking the project through an entrepreneurial design process based on culture analysis and production.
Our contribution to the tourism in Aarhus is called Kitchen Travellers. The dissertation is a mapping of the process behind Kitchen Travellers as a concept. The focus of the process is not just to look upon the field but also to actively intervene in and with the field.
To do this, the dissertation introduces a theoretical and methodical framework for working with cultural production in a post-modern society. The framework is based on the theories and methods obtained from phenomenology, anthropology, cultural strategies, effectuation, disclosing, and participatory design. This framework represents the backbone of the experience economic point of view and action and serves as a guideline in the dissertation and process where the foundation is to let the given means of entrepreneurs and the disharmonies decide which direction to take.
Based on our given means we have localized our route of possibility through the establishment of a series of disharmonies. The disharmonies take place in a disclosive space of meanings and practices between tourists and locals, which coordination indirectly reproduces stereotypes and patterns of inappropriately practices. The possibility connected to this disharmony we call Relation tourism.
To produce a pertinent and applicable intervention within the possibilities of our given means, we have studied the practises and the production of meaning that tourists perform. We have discovered that tourist experiences are fundamentally connected with site as a social context and that this involves the presence and practices of the local. Furthermore, we have analyzed the coordination between different practises of the tourist and the local. As such we have discovered that the impact of a tourist experience concerns elements of co-producing and investing oneself – corporally, emotionally and personally.
We are dealing with a tourist that seeks to be an active participant instead of a passive observant. In the relations-oriented experience, it is the relation itself that can activate the feeling of involvement.
Consequently, the dissertation investigates the possibilities of making relations between tourists and locals the focal point in rethinking tourism. Accordingly it is essential to interact with both the strategic as well as the practical level of tourism – with the coordinating organization of tourism in Aarhus as well as the tourists and the inhabitants of Aarhus.
By intervening in the field we ascertained that there are tourists in Aarhus who share our disharmonic experiences. With these actors we established an anomaly: As an attempt to abandon the consumeristic connotations of ‘the tourist’, the decisive traveller seeks new and other ways to travel that goes beyond what mainstream tourism has to offer. Tourists have diverse cultural strategies, which they employ – a strategy to construct their own self-identity by connecting with the place. In this case the locals and his every day, non-spectacular situation represent a unique resource to finding the essence of the place.
However, despite the fascination of the traveller and his appreciation of the local, the local – now returned from the travel and with a blunted sensitivity articulated by the travel – lacks the motivation to relate with the tourist. We learned that the local is unconscious of his role as a participant in tourism, and – consequently – does not engage personally.
The two actors do not experience that they have something in common and – as a result – do not engage.
We have confronted the strategic actors with these notions. However, the tourism industry of Aarhus is strategically targeting the more revenue-intensive business tourism. Even more so, the industry employs a functionalistic perspective on the segment of leisure tourists. The tourism products developed do not accommodate the cultural strategies of the tourists in their identity projects.
After a process of analyses and interaction, we employ a more cultural approach that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of tourism in Aarhus. Under the headline “Hosting and Relations” we engage a number of actors in different levels in the field in order for them to co-create the new realities of tourism. In a workshop, tourists, businesses, locals as well as strategists create a range of anomalies and concepts for phase-out. Ultimately, a concept negotiating the terms of relations in tourism turning traditional guest-host roles upside-down was created. With the purpose of cultural exchange – as opposed to transaction – the meal was articulated as the framing for the meeting.
Based on explorative mock ups with the potential users concerning how the tourist experience can be intensified and broadened by integrating the local in tourism, the dissertation shapes a concept called Kitchen Travellers.
Kitchen Travellers, as an experience-based intervention, supports the cultural strategies of both the local and the tourist. The studies of the dissertation show that tourists perform a certain mode of experience and a certain mindset - that gradually disappears when reintegrating in familiar surroundings.
Kitchen Travellers is a new way to travel and to experience – for the tourist and the local. As a tourist product, it places the individual in the centre of the ”tourist site”. To travel this way demands investing oneself in the experience. As such, Kitchen Travellers introduces a way to rethink tourism by challenging the habitual roles of tourism and thereby intensifying the tourist’s authentic experience and the re-intensifying experience mode of the tourist for the local. Through Kitchen Travellers’ webpage, the parties will be paired up to prepare and share a meal together. The tourist decides the recipe from his or her country: The guest becomes the host and the host becomes the guest.
At the end of the completion of this dissertation, Kitchen Travellers as a concept has the form of a portfolio consisting of a manifest, a draft for a website explaining the concept and facilitating the relation, and a short documentary of the intervention that has already been realized – through which we can communicate with our partners, who has the practical skills to create the website that will make new relations possible and change the existing realities into new ones.
You can read the dissertation (in Danish) following this link: http://nobelbiblioteket.au.dk/fag/nordisk/specopl/ .
(The dissertation is number 58 published from master degree education in Experience Economy.)