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Promoting Creativity in a Local Tourist Business
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The paper discusses an e-learning pilot study, focusing on local tourist producers/businesses that are occupied with the production of artefacts, mainly textiles.
The basic idea of the present work is derived from the fact that during the last few years, and due to the Athens Olympic games, the conditions for entrepreneurship in Greek tourist business have changed very much. The research focused on directions where design operates as a leading discipline of the innovation processes and entrepreneurship: the development of new high quality tourist products and designs, and the adaptation of new technologies. The development of entrepreneurship, as well as of new skills and designs in the tourist business, in order to stay or become competitive, was considered in the context of the immense pressure imposed upon small firms by external production changes and the expansion of high technology applications. The aims of the project were to create new opportunities, visions, directions and inspiration in the tourist production; to help them adapt new technologies and become more competitive; to assist them in penetrating new markets; to provide a distance-learning program to handicraft producers in order to improve their efficiency.
The objectives of the project were to promote craft design research in the university environment; to analyse design education from a cultural point of view; to facilitate a dialogue on the benefits and limitations of new technology and globalisation on craft design and production. In modern Greece the tourist business is a major source of income for the economy. The interest of foreign visitors in local and traditional products, mainly textiles, is an increasing phenomenon that was more evident during the period of the Olympic games. As a result, tourist companies have shifted their attention to producing hand-made traditional textiles and items. The problem is that in many cases, traditional products exhibit a lack of identity due to a combination of factors. The producers low educational level leads them to easy solutions, such as either entrusting the production to low cost Chinese companies, which produce cheap machine-made imitations, or copying traditional prototypes in a reformatted way. Tourist production bears the history and the identity of the country and its people, which should never be lost for the sake of modernism and internationalism. A special educational module was developed engaging new technology. It was experimentally applied to selected participating tourist producers, offering them fundamental design education, computer training, and basics on management and marketing