Is tourism part of the orange economy?

With the arrival of Dr. Ivan Duque to the presidency of the Republic undoubtedly the orange economy will become fashionable, since the then senator was the promoter of Law 1834 of 2017, which recognizes the orange economy as a very important sector for the generation of wealth in the country.

Photo; Wei Cheng Wu
Photo; Wei Cheng Wu

But what is the orange economy? According to the same law and experts in the matter, the orange economy is that sector of the economy constituted by creative industries “understood as those that generate value by reason of their goods and services, which are based on intellectual property”, within four sectors: ancestral heritage, visual and performing arts, television and radio, architecture and design.

This is how the orange economy includes festivals and carnivals, gastronomy, museums and libraries in the ancestral heritage; theatre, dances, zarzuela, puppets in the performing arts; photography, painting, sculpture in the visual arts; radio, television, cinema and digital media and advertising in the media; architecture; and design and jewellery, among others.

In the second article of the law, which contemplates definitions, tourism and tangible and intangible heritage are included as a component of the creative industries. Dr. Duque pointed out that one of the great brothers who has the orange economy is tourism, because it allows the visitor to offer the link with culture and indicated that the brotherhood between culture and tourism will generate economic activity. (More words, with Alvaro García, June 2017).

From the above it could be concluded that orange economy is not tourism, nor that tourism is part of the orange economy. Let’s see why.

As the definition of orange economy included in Law 1834 points out, it is made up of creative industries based on intellectual property. It is difficult to understand how ancestral heritage, which does not have intellectual property precisely because it arises from popular traditions, without a known author but as an expression of a society, can be counted in the orange economy. A different case occurs with events organized around these cultural manifestations, such as the Vallenata Legend Festival or the Barranquilla Carnival, which may have an “owner”, which derives an economic benefit from the staging of these cultural manifestations and whose celebration drives the regional economy on the dates of its celebration. I believe, therefore, that the delimitation imposed by law on the creative industries in the sense of basing them on intellectual property will generate a great stumbling block for their measurement.

In the strict sense of the law, I would venture to say that tourism is not part of the orange economy although it can undoubtedly be a very important tool for its dissemination and consolidation.

Photo: Alessio lin
Photo: Alessio lin

In general, the tourism product is based on two pillars: culture and nature. Apart from corporate tourism, which obeys other logics, leisure tourism originates from the motivation to get to know other cultures, present or past, or to share cultural manifestations, or to enjoy nature.

If we analyze the motivations of people to travel, no matter how segmented they are, we will see that they fall into either of these two categories. Thus, people who travel for architectural reasons, or to attend a festival or a particular celebration; those who travel to enjoy the gastronomy of a destination, or those who travel to learn about a tradition or simply to share a hobby, or to learn about scientific advances, all have a cultural motivation.

In the field of nature tourism are included displacements motivated by the desire to know natural places, to observe birds, to carry out ecological walks, to carry out adventure activities, to visit caves or to climb mountains.

Those of us who work in tourism are challenged to respond to these motivations with experiences; creativity and innovation are needed for this, but it is difficult for those experiences designed by tourist service providers to be the object of intellectual property, as if to say that they are part of the orange economy.

We, the tourism workers, draw on culture and nature to design our clients’ experiences. Traditions and cultural interests as well as natural offerings are the raw materials of the products we offer. This raw material is the same for all actors of tourism; only creativity and innovation will give them a content that will make it an unforgettable experience for the tourist. However, is it possible to grant intellectual property rights to this offer, which has been created in this way? So far, I have not seen the first case. In fact, many travel agencies complain that others copy their plans. The mere fact of modifying a route means that the offer is no longer the same. Hence my thesis that tourism is not part of the orange economy.

However, tourism can be a very powerful vehicle to boost and strengthen the orange economy. As I have just pointed out, part of the travel motivations of tourists are due to expectations related to culture, and these cultural expressions are part of the orange economy.

Vallenato, as a cultural expression, and the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata, as a staging of this manifestation, today move thousands of people to Valledupar and become an important input to design creative and innovative tourism products.

The same happens with the indigenous cultures that are present in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, or with the Children of Vallenato, widely recognized worldwide. All of them are cultural manifestations of the greatest interest for those who visit Valledupar.

Tourism can enhance these offers through innovative and creative tourism products that offer visitors an unforgettable experience about the Vallenato culture and our ancestral indigenous cultures. The structuring of these products requires a coordinated and harmonious work between the cultural and tourist institutions, with the participation of the private sector, which ultimately organizes the commercial offers.

Author: Gustavo Adolfo Toro Velásquez. 

Cotelco President