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Dance Tourism Business Models in Seville and Buenos Aires: dimensions of meaning of intangible cultural assets in destination management

Tatjana Thimm
Traduction de Tim Freytag
Cet article est une traduction de :
Geschäftsmodell Tanztourismus in Sevilla und Buenos Aires – Bedeutungsdimensionen immaterieller Kulturgüter im Destinationsmanagement [de]
Autre(s) traduction(s) de cet article :
Modelo de negocio del turismo del baile en Sevilla y Buenos Aires: aspectos de la importancia del patrimonio cultural inmaterial en la gestión de destinos turísticos [es]


Flamenco and tango are among the first associations which come to mind in connection with Seville and Buenos Aires. Ever since both art forms appeared in the 19th century, a form of dance tourism has been constantly evolving, giving rise to differentiated business models right up to the present day. Moreover, as intangible world cultural assets, flamenco and tango have acquired considerable importance for the destination image of both cities. The ‘governance of global value chains’ model of Gereffi et al. (2005) is here applied in adapted form to flamenco and tango dance tourism in order to derive dimensions of meaning in destination management.

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Introduction and approach to the problem

1As a specific provision of the tourist industry, dance tourism represents a little investigated research niche. On a superordinate level, Gibson and Connell’s (2005) work on the relationship between music and tourism can be regarded as laying the groundwork. According to Gibson and Cornell, only three other core texts on the theme of music tourism exist, also originating in the field of music geography : Carney (1978), Connell and Gibson (2003) and Leyshon et al. (1998). In their comparatively more up-to-date publication, Gibson and Connell (2005) provide an overview of music tourism with regard to its history, perceptual psychological processes, and the relationship between music and tourist sites. For example, they counterpoint Urry’s ‘tourist gaze’ (2002) with the complementary idea of a ‘tourist ear’. It is not only travel to music tourist destinations that is significant in this connection, but also participation in a musical event as a break from everyday life, which constitutes a form of ‘virtual’ music tourism : one plunges into an exotic world without actually having to head off for any destination.

2These fundamental observations on music tourism can also be applied to the more specialised field of dance tourism. Here however, in contrast to music tourism, there exists no general overview, but only individual articles on the theme of tourism and specific dance forms, for example those of McCleary et al. (2005) on ballroom dancing and tourism in the USA. Dunbar-Hall (2006) on dance and tourism on Bali, or Xie et al. (2007) on hip-hop and tourism in the USA – of which the last two also take music into consideration.µ

3Here ‘flamenco’ or ‘tango tourism’ should be understood to refer to all value-creating activities related to tourism or tango. These include, for example, visits to dance shows, festivals, dance events, dancing instruction and the purchase of audio recordings and clothing.

4Flamenco tourism, particularly in its value-creating capacity, has been explored by Aoyama (2009), while Marchini (2007) should be mentioned as a relevant source on tango tourism.
Over the course of time, different forms of music or dance tourism have evolved into business segments with specific business models. Music and dance have in part secured a considerable significance for certain destinations with regard to image and positioning. Salzburg, Bayreuth, Memphis or New Orleans are associated primarily with music or dance in tourist perceptions, just like the case studies considered in this article, Seville and Buenos Aires.

5The following research questions must therefore be investigated :

  • What particular characteristics are exhibited by tourist business models in Seville and Buenos Aires dance tourism with regard to various dimensions of meaning in destination management ?

  • What modifications to existing models for the governance of global value chains are necessary when adapting them for dance tourism ?

Methodological approach

6At the centre of this investigation lies the adaptation of the ‘governance of global value chains’ model of Gereffi et al. (2005), and its adaptation to dance tourism with the aid of the examples of flamenco in Seville and tango in Buenos Aires. The present article is thus first and foremost to be understood as conceptual.

7During periods of residence abroad in Seville (2011) and Buenos Aires (2012), each lasting several weeks, qualitative interviews were conducted with representatives of the dance and tourism sectors (Gernhard Steingress, University of Seville, on 19 September 2011 ; Elena Carambao, flamenco dancer, on 28 September 2011 ; Tito Palumbo, editor of B.A. Tango magazine, on 19 September 2012 ; Hernán Morel, University of Buenos Aires, on 28 September). In conjunction with the analysis of primary and secondary literature, and on-site observation both as participant and non-participant, these were then utilised as supplementary materials for this paper.

Model-theoretical frame of reference

8As an element of destination management, dance tourism exhibits a range of specific characteristics. On the one hand it constitutes a very specific niche that plays only a subordinate role in the total value creation of tourism. On the other, its image dimension may diverge sharply from this, since its relevance for a destination’s image can be high. Moreover dance tourism comprises an artistic dimension, a creative process ; and while it may be true that, in the last analysis, this is susceptible to commercialisation, it can certainly also contain non-commercial values. Artists have a stake in their art, they attach a value to it that transcends the financial rewards – and the same applies to audiences. Like tourism in general, dance tourism must be classified under that group of services which is distinguished by intangibility, the ‘uno-actu’ principle (the simultaneous incidence of consumption and production, also called ‘prosumption’), and the need to integrate an external factor (in this case, the tourist) in the service provision process (see Haller 2012, p. 7).

9At its core, therefore, dance tourism is a question of the simultaneous management of monetary and non-monetary values on a global level. For this reason the ‘governance of global value chains’ concept of Gereffi et al. (2005) is here utilised as model-theoretical framework, and applied to the case studies of flamenco dance tourism in Seville and tango dance tourism in Buenos Aires in modified and adapted form. The choice of model-theoretical framework fell upon Gereffi et al. (2005) because, in adapted form, this model provides explanatory approaches to the modes of functioning of globally operating business models in tango and flamenco dance tourism.

10The governance model of global value chains proposed by Gereffi et al. (2005) is based on a combination of transaction cost theory, network theory and the concept of the ‘learning organisation’, which is varied by the complexity of transactions, the ability to codify information and, therefore, transmit it efficiently, and the ability of suppliers to meet the requirements for transactions.

11As a result, Gereffi et al. (2005, p. 86ff.) arrive at five analytical entities which describe the forms of global governance of value chains :

a) Markets. In markets the complexity of transactions is limited, information can easily be codified and efficiently transmitted, and suppliers are in a position to provide the product. Price and buyer specifications are decisive mechanisms for purchase, and therefore coordination costs are kept within limits.

b) Modular value chains. This term is used when, for example, the product architecture is modular. Standards compel suppliers to adhere to quality specifications (‘turn-key suppliers’). The information to be codified increases in complexity, but coordination costs are still relatively low.

c) Relational value chains. Relational value chains occur when considerable relationship management is necessary, since product information is not easy to codify, and face-to-face communication becomes indispensable. In this case reputation, family and ethnic ties, and social and geographical proximity gain in importance. Total coordination costs are higher than in the case of markets and modular value chains, but still less than in the case of captive value chains and hierarchies.

d) Captive value chains. A high level of product and information complexity is found in captive value chains, because higher coordination outlay becomes necessary. Suppliers are dependent on their lead firm, since it is from this that they receive strict production specifications.

e) Hierarchy. In the case of very complex products, and the absence of qualified suppliers, the whole production process is undertaken in one firm, with high coordination costs.

Figure. 1: The five types of governance of global value chains

Figure. 1: The five types of governance of global value chains

Gereffi et al. 2005, p. 89

12Value chains of creative industries which operate globally, such as flamenco or tango, can be classified under relational value chains, since considerable relationship management by intermediaries (agencies, culture management organisations) is necessary to bring suppliers (in this case, artists) of the service provision (dance) finally in contact with dance tourism consumers. Since, in its present form, the model is still insufficient to describe dance tourism adequately, it is used here as a point of departure for specific modifications.

Modification and adaptation of the ‘governance of global value chains’ concept

13The ‘governance of global value chains’ concept of Gereffi et al. (2005) described above requires multiple modifications and adaptations before it can be applied to dance tourism, since it does not take into consideration the non-commercial artistic values inherent in the culture industry, nor show to advantage the service provision aspect of tourism.
In his article on ‘cultural commodity chains’, Pratt (2008) describes the necessity of adapting value chain models to the specific characteristics of the creative industries. He justifies this on the grounds of the fundamental ‘otherness’ of this sector.

14Lange and Bürkner (2010, p. 47) have also drawn attention to the fundamental problem of the limited applicability of business economics models to the culture industry. Using the example of electronic club music in Berlin and Leipzig, they demonstrate that classical models of the value configuration of services such as ‘value chains’ (input-output orientation), ‘value shops’ (problem-solving orientation) and ‘value networks’ (intermediary orientation) (cf. Woratschek, Roth and Schafmeister 2007, p. 32) are inadequate in their ability to shed light on ‘cultural value creation’, since they do not reflect the specific ‘investing of a commodity with significance’, and also because the latter is not adequately measured by the price (‘dual character of value creation’ ; cf. Lange and Bürkner 2010, p. 51ff.) Bruhn and Stauss (2007, p. 7) in fact draw attention to the dual perspective of value creation as measured in business economics as well : a business economics perspective, based on the addition of value by all the stages in the production process of goods or services, here exists in a reciprocal relationship with a customer-oriented creation of value, i.e. the utility as perceived by the consumer. But even this differentiation does not fully describe the specific production of meaning in cultural value creation.

15Moreover Lange and Bürkner (ibid.) explain that the classic sequential production processes of business economics are not found in the creative industry :
« Value creation in the creative industry cannot be defined in terms of production stages fixed in advance and supplier-customer relationships. Rather it must be conceived as the result of flexible arrangements of actors, interactions and institutionalisation processes. […] In particular, the investing of products with symbolic significance is an integral component of material value creation in the creative industry. Value creation, therefore, always has a material and a socio-cultural dimension ». (Lange and Bürkner 2010, p. 55ff.)
Just as the process models of industrial business economics were unsuited to illustrate service provision processes, so the service provision models of business economics require further development before they can be applied to the creative industry.
The point of departure for this modification is the relational value chain model of Gereffi et al. (2005) :

Figure 2: Relational value chains

Figure 2: Relational value chains

Author’s own illustration (2012) after Gereffi et al. (2005)

16The central idea of relational value chains as a model for the governance of global value creation is the necessity for a considerable outlay on relationships, combined with an outlay on coordination (see above) which is, as whole, moderate by comparison with the other variant models of Gereffi et al. (2005). This applies to the creative industry in general and to the dance tourism sector in particular. Both in Seville and Buenos Aires, the dance tourism scene is transparently a ‘people business’ : in other words, seeing and being seen in the appropriate milieus, relationships of artists to event organisers and sponsors from the political administration and – naturally – contacts with the specific niche audience through crucially relevant channels of communication are very important. Further applying the model of relational value chains to dance tourism, the artists can be equated with the subcontractors in the industry, the intermediaries in the creative industry and tourism with the relational suppliers, and the event organiser for flamenco or tango with the main company. In order to do justice both to the service provision character and the dual character of value creation, as well as the not strictly sequential progression of business processes in dance tourism, the model is modified as follows :

Figure. 3: Global value chains in dance tourism, author’s own illustration, 2012

Figure. 3: Global value chains in dance tourism, author’s own illustration, 2012

Author’s own illustration, 2012

17In Figure 3 the service provision character is made clearer by integrating an external factor, the dance tourist. The immaterial service – dance – can only by realised with the aid of a corresponding audience or the demand for workshops from amateur dance participants. In addition to monetary value creation, a form of cultural value creation takes place : a production of meaning by artists for the audience or amateur participants. At the same time, this production of meaning is important for the artists themselves : self-realisation through art and recognition by the audience are important factors here. Relationship management is always reciprocal, and moreover takes place between all actors involved in dance tourism simultaneously. Here a purely sequential succession is replaced by simultaneous and – not seldom – chaotic communication among all participants.

Case study: dimensions of meaning of the Seville and Buenos Aires dance tourism business model, considered in the light of the governance of global value chains – a comparison

Historical development of the dance tourism business model in Seville and Buenos Aires

18The emergence of the terms ‘tango’ and ‘flamenco’ for the artistic forms as we know them today can, in both cases, be dated to around the middle of the 19th century. Tango and flamenco both arose as musical hybrids in the urban environments of Buenos Aires/Motevideo and Seville/Cádiz/Jerez, whose character was shaped by marginalised social classes such as workers and prostitutes, or ethnic groups such as gitanos (Spanish Romany). Just as many attempts to explain the etymology of the word ‘tango’ exist in parallel – such as ‘tambo’ (rural location or bordello in Argentine Spanish), a derivation from Tango andaluz (a Flamenco form) or the Latin tangere (‘touch’) – so too the explanations for the origin of ‘flamenco’ are as numerous as they are speculative. In its original sense flamenco literally means ‘Flemish’, and in a figurative sense also ‘brash’, ‘loud’, ‘cheeky’. Later, in the 19th century, the term flamenco was applied to Andalusia’s urban bohemian community – and only later was its meaning restricted to the new music and dance style which had emerged in this milieu (cf. Knipp 2006, p. 36 ; Steingress 1991, p. 189 ; Barrionuevo Anzaldi 2012, p. 53ff. ; Thimm 2005, p. 69).

19From their origin onwards tango and flamenco were exposed to tourist influences, in other words there existed a connection to forms of dance tourism from the very beginning, and tourism has kept the art alive up to today. Nevertheless right up to today, in parallel with the ever-increasing commercialisation and globalisation of tango and flamenco over the years, more private forms have continued to persist, such as milongas (tango dance events) and juergas (mostly spontaneous flamenco celebrations), or cultivation by clubs or societies (peñas, which exist both for flamenco and tango). Some of these forms of event are also accessible for tourists, others are not. Moreover there exist specific codes of behaviour in such milieus, for example at a milonga in Buenos Aires, which are often no longer practised in the same form in Europe. Requesting a dance, duration of a dance, dancing in the inner or outer circle of the dance floor, seating in the room – all these are based on rules, into which dancers from Europe must first be initiated if they wish to negotiate a dance evening successfully. Meanwhile by far the greatest monetary value creation in dance tourism is achieved by evening-length shows (cena show in tango, tablao in flamenco) : in addition to dance, music and song performances, a meal of several courses is also served (for full details see Aoyama 2009 and Marchini 2007).

The value creation dimension of meaning in destination management

20The monetary value creation of both flamenco and tango dance tourism is small. In each case it amounts to less than a 5 % share of either total tourism or the creative industry respectively (cf. Cantero Martinéz and Hernández Pavón 2009, p. 55 ; Aoyama 2009, p. 95 ; Marchini 2007, p. 16).
In this connection dance tourists may be classified according to the following types :

Table 1: Typologies of flamenco and tango tourists

Typology of flamenco tourists

Typology of tango tourists

Festival visitors

Festival visitors

Amateur dance participants

Amateur dance participants

Tablao visitors

Cena show visitors

21The initial apparent consistency in the characteristics of these typologies needs to be subjected to differentiated scrutiny. Here the activity of festival visitors demonstrates the greatest similarities : stage events and workshops – often in combination – are in demand both for flamenco and tango (examples are the Bienal de Sevilla, the Festival de Jerez or the Tango Buenos Aires Festival y Mundial).

22The greatest value creation in flamenco and tango is achieved by tablaos (restaurants in which flamenco shows take place) and cena shows (dinner shows) respectively. Approximately a third of all tourists to Buenos Aires attend such a show (Marchini 2007, p. 41). There are no figures for Seville, but one can proceed on the assumption of a similar proportion. The cena shows in Buenos Aires are on average approximately twice as expensive as a visit to a tablao in Seville. This reflects the higher expenditure with regard to the number of dancers and the engagement of an orchestra, whereas flamenco events get by with considerably fewer dancers and often limit their accompaniment to a guitar.

23In addition to visitors to evening shows and festivals, the third form of dance tourist is the amateur dance participant. In Seville these mainly comprise middle-class women travelling alone or in groups, aged between 25-45 years, who book a two-week package including a flamenco dance course. Students, at 18 %, also constitute a relevant target group (cf. Santos Pavón 2003, p. 3ff.). Additionally there are visits to tablaos and peñas. The amateur participant clientele for tango is distinguished from this by virtue of the fact that tango is a partner dance and predominantly practised by the 40+ target group, which as a rule displays a higher level of income than the amateur flamenco participants. As well as couples, unaccompanied women also travel to Buenos Aires, who then hire what is not infrequently called a ‘taxi dancer’ as their dance partner (cf. Klein 2012, p. 21). Visits are made to cena shows, courses and workshops, and milongas.

24In Buenos Aires special tango hotels have established themselves for amateur participants, which often provide their own practice space and in-house tango courses.

25Further business segments associated with dance tourism are clothing, shoes and audio recordings (cf. Bevilacqua 2009, p. 14ff. ; Aoyama 2009, p. 92ff.)
All in all, a larger and more differentiated portfolio of business segments has arisen for tango in Buenos Aires than for flamenco in Seville. Tango hotels and taxi dancers are examples of this (cf. Palumbo 2012, pp. 89 and 98).
Both tango and flamenco have achieved intangible world cultural heritage status (2009 and 2010). Subsequently this distinction has been used for the marketing in foreign markets so important for both art forms (cf. Empresa Pública Turismo Andaluz S.A. 2004 ; Gómez Schettini et al. 2011, p. 1032 ; Morel 2009, p. 156). Right up to today, the demand from foreign tourists has been crucial for the preservation of flamenco and tango (cf. Bevilacqua 2009, p. 14ff. ; Aoyama 2009, p. 95ff.)

26Through the application of the global value chain model to dance tourism (see Fig. 3), it is possible to establish that a wide variety of relationships exists between the actors involved – individual artists, intermediaries, event organisers and dance tourists. All these actors enter into a relationship with all the other actors : in flamenco, the audience provides direct feedback during the performance (cheering and clapping, interjections) ; professional tango dancers interact with amateur tango dancers in a teacher-student relationship and with event organisers in the context of engagements for shows and festivals. In both cases intermediaries (agents) mediate between their dancers and event organisers and dance tourists, for example as part of workshops etc.

27Relationship management is relevant at all levels in the face-to-face business of dance tourism, and the investment in co-ordination is therefore not inconsiderable. Geographical proximity to the birthplace of the dance in, respectively, Seville or Buenos Aires plays an important atmospheric role (see below). Both in flamenco and in tango, reputation and the family origins of the artist are significant. In flamenco, additionally, membership of the gitanos ethnic group (Spanish Romany) is relevant.

28In dance tourism, all actors are involved in the governance of global value creation, a cornerstone of destination management. Through their reciprocal contacts they avoid a linear process chain and consequently a strict ‘production’ of the dance tourism service.

29Both for the artists and the dance tourists, cultural value creation takes place on several levels :

  • Artists see in their work a specific production of meaning (self-realisation, narcissism ; cf. interviews with Gernhard Steingress on 19 September 2011, Elena Carambao on 28 September 2011, Tito Palumbo on 19 September 2012 and Hernán Morel on 28 September 2012).

  • Event organisers and intermediaries are not seldom aficionados of flamenco and tango, and view this as an important motive for their work.

  • Dance tourists assign an individual and specific production of meaning (enjoyment, self-realisation) to their visits to dance events and courses, either as spectators or participants.

The image dimension of meaning in destination management

30Flamenco and tango are actively exported from Seville and Buenos Aires by way of their tourist image. While Seville shares flamenco as a regional art form defining its image and identity with other cities such as Jerez, Granada or Cádiz, Buenos Aires predominantly claims the tango as its own exclusive property, even if Montevideo also played a role in its inception. It is true that the dominant share of dance tourist activities in Andalusia is concentrated in Seville (cf. Empresa Pública Turismo Andaluz S.A. 2004, p. 7 ; Aoyama 2009, p. 89), but the city can draw on other elements for its image such as bullfighting and an old town containing famous monumental buildings, whereas Buenos Aires is overwhelmingly associated with tango (cf. Goméz Schettini et al. 2011, p. 1031). Additionally, it is attractive for dance tourists that both cities are associated with the birthplace of the art form which defines each : being in the relevant dance Mecca invests the dance tourist experience with a special attractiveness (cf. Klein 2012, p. 21 ; Aoyama 2009, p. 88).

31Thanks to the association of flamenco with Seville and tango with Buenos Aires, both cities have succeeded in creating a USP in destination management, particularly in foreign markets, which has been further reinforced by the recognition of both flamenco and tango individually as intangible world cultural heritage.
The use of flamenco and tango as a dominant image element in the destination management of Seville and Buenos Aires therefore contributes to supporting the global value creation of these cities in general, and of dance tourism in particular.


32Flamenco and tango dance were exposed to touristic commercialisation from the outset, and therefore to the gaze of numerous foreign observers. Early tourism – in particular, foreign tourism – generated a demand for both art forms and remains the most powerful support for their stability up to today (cf. Knipp 2006, p. 13 ; Aoyama 2009, p. 95ff. ; Savigliano 1995, p. 95ff. ; Bevilacqua 2009, p. 14 ; Marchini 2007). In order to describe the business models of dance tourism, a modified configuration of the model for the governance of relational, global value chains proposed by Gereffi et al. (2005) is suitable. It can be applied to dance tourism by additionally including the service provision character, the specific characteristics of the creative industry (no strict linear processes) and the cultural, non-commercial value creation.
Here ‘authenticity’ proves to be irrelevant in every case, even for the tourists themselves :
« No music style, artist or expression can easily maintain a claim to authenticity because even music with the most apparent ‘authenticity’ – perhaps ‘world’ and ‘classical’ music – is nevertheless mediated by an industry, and packaged and promoted in particular ways. Authenticity is an illusion, especially when it is equated with distance from commercialization. […] It provides musical releases with critical currency and credibility essential to sales figures, but it is always a social construction. […] In the interest of profitability, tourists are usually given what they are believed to want. » (Gibson and Connell 2005, pp. 138 and 148).

33This aspect is therefore not given any further consideration in this discussion.
The business models of flamenco and tango differ only in details, not in their basic foundations. Both have generated very similar tourist demands, in which tango tourism has the backing of a clientele both older and richer in purchasing power. While it is true that, in both cases, value creation through dance tourism plays a subordinate role in destination management, as an essential image bearer it makes a considerable contribution to the differentiation and positioning of Seville and Buenos Aires as urban destinations. Flamenco and tango create an image which stands for eroticism, exoticism and passion, and exerts a global attraction for tourists that extends beyond the sphere of dance tourism. The limited, direct touristic value creation of dance tourism cannot therefore be considered in isolation, but must be embedded in the globally effective operation of the relevant image.

Conclusion and outlook

34In destination management, dance tourism operates on the value creation and image dimensions of meaning. As intangible cultural assets and image bearers for the cities of Seville and Buenos Aires, flamenco and tango have access to global markets, the governance of which can be described by means of a modification of the relational, global value chain model of Gereffi et al. (2005). Here the fundamental difference between the creative industry and the industrial production of physical goods is made clear by specific characteristics of the dance tourism service provision, as well as its cultural, non-commercial value creation, which supplements monetary value creation. The two case studies – flamenco tourism in Seville and tango tourism in Buenos Aires – differ here only in terms of variants of their business model, not the fundamental mode of operation of the dance tourism niche. Since their origins in the 19th century flamenco and tango have evolved into cultural assets for which there is a global demand, with tourist focal points limited to two cities. The opportunities for destination management lie in the professionalisation of the partially atomised, disorganised dance scene, and a more intense use of the emotional associations of flamenco and tango as image bearers. Here however, even in the future, it will be not be possible to attain the strict process character of other service sectors, since it is precisely from a certain degree of informal and relationship-orientated business practice that the creative industry derives its creativity and power of attraction – not least for the tourists.

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Gernhard Steingress, University of Seville, 19 September 2011
Elena Carambao, flamenco dancer, 28 September 2011
Tito Palumbo, editor of B.A. Tango magazine, 19 September 2012
Hermán Morel, University of Buenos Aires, 28 September 2012

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure. 1: The five types of governance of global value chains
Crédits Gereffi et al. 2005, p. 89
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Titre Figure 2: Relational value chains
Crédits Author’s own illustration (2012) after Gereffi et al. (2005)
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Titre Figure. 3: Global value chains in dance tourism, author’s own illustration, 2012
Crédits Author’s own illustration, 2012
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k
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Tatjana Thimm, « Dance Tourism Business Models in Seville and Buenos Aires: dimensions of meaning of intangible cultural assets in destination management », Via [En ligne], 6 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2014, consulté le 28 mars 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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Via Tourism Review est mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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