Research @VIU: Homemade Tourism: The Artisan Economy

October 17, 2018 - 9:30am

Every year, faculty and students at VIU go out into communities to participate in research that is having significant impacts on the region as well as giving students important experiential learning opportunities. Here are a few projects they engaged in this year. Project five of five. 

From microbrews and ciders to handmade jewelry and pottery, the re-emergence of the artisan economy offers significant opportunities for Vancouver Island residents. 

“We conducted a study in 2016 on food artisans in BC and found evidence that consumer demand for artisanal products has been increasing,” says John Predyk, a VIU Recreation and Tourism Professor. 

In that study, VIU concluded that nearly half of artisans generated all of their income from their business, while 40 per cent of artisans earned at least half of their income through that work. Most of the employment generated by artisan businesses was likely to be full-time or permanent. Artisans were interested in seeing their businesses continue to grow, but they were seeking guidance to make the next steps on their entrepreneurial journeys.

“There is a need to support this new economy, as most artisans are not trained in entrepreneurship and are largely self-taught,” explains Predyk.

VIU researchers are at the forefront of discovering the challenges and prospects of the sector to support the success of local businesses.  

In 2017, VIU partnered with the province and Société de développement économique de la Colombie-Britannique (SDÉCB) to evaluate the economic impact of adoption of the ÉCONOMUSÉE model for artisans. The ÉCONOMUSÉE model promotes the preservation of traditional knowledge and local entrepreneurship by using cultural tourism to showcase artisans and encourage the purchase of locally produced artisanal products.

All except one of the artisans participating in the research saw an increase in revenue after adopting the model. All businesses surveyed saw increased traffic and had extremely positive visitor experience satisfaction, with 96 per cent of visitors stating they would recommend the artisan to others. ­

The project, supported by the VIU Regional Initiatives Fund, provided research experience and employment for four VIU Faculty of Management students. 

Next up in his artisan economy research, Predyk and students are expanding on that knowledge by conducting another research project to identify and map the emerging artisan economy across the country.

*This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 edition of VIU Magazine. Check out more stories on the VIU Magazine webpage.

Tags: Recreation and Tourism | Research | VIU Magazine

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