In our twenty-first century urbanizing world there is a tendency to reserve words like ‘creative’ and ‘innovative’ for the most geographically central places with high population growth and high-technology sectors. However, through tourism studies, we have a window on another kind of creativity in another kind of place. This chapter builds on the research on creative tourism in small cities and rural places led by CREATOUR, Greg Richards, and others and takes it to the next geographical level of rural peripheral places – creative outposts. A ‘creative outpost’ is a rural peripheral community which faces a challenging socio-economic environment but which meets its challenges by deploying endogenous creative capital resulting in a palpable shift towards a more sustainable socio-economic environment. This chapter focuses on the subtle, yet palpable, role of the creative processes that contribute to rural peripheral tourism innovation. By sharing three research vignettes from rural British Columbia, Canada – Ashcroft, Fernie, and Salt Spring Island – it is shown that tourism has proven to be tenacious in rural peripheral areas and that creative tourism has a clear role in the long-term resilience of rural communities.
Under the broad umbrella of tourism studies there is a great section of research which has been lambasted for lacking a critical approach to the phenomenon of tourism. Studies of the tourism economy have largely sidestepped any criticism by claiming to be objective and value-neutral. Within tourism geographies, however, there is an active approach to critical studies of tourism in a place-based context, including critical studies of the tourism economy. This chapter connects these studies, which are most often conceptually refined and empirically supported, and calls for a movement of tourism economic research towards a geographical political economy of tourism.