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Shopping Tourism of Products with Cultural Identity refers to the activity of trade of products identified with a destination such as contemporary and traditional handicraft, local creative industries of touristic interest, gastronomical products, vanguard designs and traditional and contemporary culture products, among others, which are related to an economic and commercial vision that integrates the local industries of any territory and whose point of interest is Shopping Tourism.

Photo by Vignesh Moorthy
Photo by Vignesh Moorthy

This class of tourism allows to offer the traveler a unique and different experience to get to know and acquire objects, artefacts and other products elaborated exclusively in said tourist destination whose cultural identity is appreciated in the elaboration and imprint of each product.

This is due to culture being linked to psychological aspects considering the identification of characteristics that make up the heritage of a social group. Therefore we will be able to talk about cultural identity as the sense of belonging to a territory (with its values and its systems of meanings) based on common characteristics: language, traditions, ceremonies, rites, forms of social behavior accepted by the majority, etc.

The valorization and care of the cultural identity are vital for the community due to the economic exploitation of it. For this reason one can knit ties between cultural identity and tourism as codependent practices, given that tourism is an activity based on the displacement of a person to another territory distinct to the one they live or work in with various aims, mostly recreational, and where they expect to find something autochthonous.

In this sense, developing plans and market strategies to offer articles of local or national production refers us to shopping tourism as an activity meant for the acquirement of objects that bring different shopping experiences to the traveler both because of the price of each product they acquire and the meaning it can have due to the visited region.

The main characteristic of Shopping Tourism with cultural identity, however, are the products elaborated in the territory, mainly crafts, elaborated with technical instruments that give a more human significance to the act of production. Handicraft work implies a connection with the craftsman and producer due to the contact with the natural materials used (wood, silver, glass, gemstones, cloth, etc.), appreciable in articles and souvenirs that narrate a local history.

When analyzing the offer of the tourist destinations, shopping allow the traveler to have a unique and different experience when acquiring a product elaborated exclusively in said destination where the cultural identity of the territory has a relevant space because the social and recreational practices, customs, traditions, ancestral techniques and materials typical of the culture conform the heritage of a social group, differentiating it from other social groups.

Local products are the most highly valued by the visiting consumers considering the symbolical value and the cultural identity. Therefore the local crafts, the works of local design and other products derived from the creative economies of the territory give authenticity and consolidate the image of a tourist destination, in addition to the modes of selling and buying, as a motor of economic development which is boosted by the vision that the local industries integrate. For this reason they become a primordial factor of development, economic growth and a profitable segment for the destination, considering that the purchases made by tourists help to consolidate and highlight the image, giving a positive positioning to the place.

In this way, the skilled creator finds a valorization of the authentic product, in objects of appreciation, value and cultural identity, which identifies a past, a habit or a custom, retaining in the tourist who buys, a symbolic sense that stays engraved in the memory, the appreciation and the sense of belonging of the place visited.

Photo by Kukuh Himawan Samudro
Photo by Kukuh Himawan Samudro

This economic creative approach is one of the activities of the Orange Economy, notion developed by Iván Duque and Felipe Buitrago (2013) which foments a policy of growth in different activities in the art world, based on ideas that transform into benefits for both society and the territory to bring economic growth and empower entrepreneurs to follow with the promotion and diffusion of the goods, services and activities of cultural, artistic and patrimonial content. In consequence, the orange side of the economy surges from the symbolism of the color that represents culture, identity, transformation and creativity.

Therefore every artistic piece, seen as design, textile, handicraft, dance, visual arts, performing activities, design, editorial design, cinema, fashion and music, is the product of a creation in the field of art, a creation that is attributed an aesthetic and social function that can be exploited through this economy which has had a positive impact in the general growth of economy, development, the creation of jobs and the wellbeing of the citizen.

It’s important to state that cultural identity unites us as a community while distinguishing us from the rest. It therefore connects us through the offer and demand of products and services, by means of shopping tourism, while it maintains us looking at the future without losing sight of the past, based on the acquired object.

In this sense, part of the offer of products with cultural identity can be considered high range or luxury, many of which are determined by the experience lived by the tourist, who needs to add an unrepeatable emotion to it, experience definitely being the essential object of travel.

This concept also takes an important space in luxury or high end brands where the tradition, mode of artisanal production and the number of products offered and related to a territory or the producers, allow for a connection between the territory of elaboration, the producer and the buyer, even delocalizing the point of selling and buying of the product.