Nostalgia, Commodification of Emotions and Small-town Tourism: The Case of Vintage Vila

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Abstract

Small urban environments face many issues in tourism; for example, how to position themselves in contrast to the larger cities and how to provide adequate tourist facilities for their guests. In the case of positioning, they have to choose something different and attractive. And in the case of infrastructure, small cities are primarily meant for their residents and have plenty residential buildings but lack of tourist accommodation buildings. The article attempts to reflect on specific contemporary form of “consumed nostalgia” (Cross, 2015) that is characteristic of the era of modern consumer society and offer an example of how its potential could be employed in tourism, particular in small urban environments with significant implications of preserving abandoned properties and thus existing architectural and cultural heritage. An analysis of Vintage Vila accommodation facility that is located in small city of Brežice, Slovenia, was conducted in order to acquaint the potential of a specific form of nostalgia tourism. After an interview with Vintage Vila founder, a review of their Facebook site and the responses of the visitors was made. Additionally the study of media coverage of Vintage Vila was completed to understand the discursive construction of a unique narrative of the place. The basic objective of this paper is to describe this innovative solution for the preservation of architectural and cultural heritage of small urban environments. With the case study of Vintage Vila accommodation facility we hope to encourage other small cities to recognise their potential in abandoned buildings. Restoration of such facilities can open up new possibilities in tourism and may, together with thoughtfully chosen narratives that emotionally bound people to their material environment, contribute to a revitalization of small cities. What is more, tourism development grounded in vintage and nostalgia appeals should be considered as part of a call for sustainable growth, as it advocates and supports alternative consumer practices (such as recycling and reusing objects) and preservation of material culture in general.

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