Urban Tourism and its Link with Heritage Tourism and Event Tourism

Urban Tourism and its Link with Heritage Tourism and Event Tourism
Urban tourism has gained popularity since the stakeholders in the global
economy perceive it as a major source of revenue and a driving force for
other forms of development. The increasing economic contribution made by
urban tourism and its impact on the short city breaks has continually
attracted the attention of stakeholders in the tourism sector and policy
makers. Focus on urban vacations has significantly changed the dynamics
of tourism industry since 1980s (Cianga, 2013). This implies that many
tourists are gaining interest in urban tourism, which involves taking
vacations to visit the inner areas of the city instead of natural
features and historical sites. To this end, stakeholders in the tourism
industry are focusing on development of sites that will make their
cities world heritage labels and attain international recognition
through the creation of unique architectural structures, football
stadiums, and city blocks. However, a research on urban tourism and
comparing it with other contemporary issues (such as heritage tourism
and event tourism) is necessary to assess the impact of this growing
contemporary issue in the tourism industry.
The structure of this paper consists of three parts. The first part will
provide a discussion of factors that have contributed to the rapid
increase in the popularity of urban tourism. This part will focus on the
significance of city identity, which is accomplished by regeneration of
heritage resources, organizing events, and creating of special themes
for different cities (Rossana Galdini, 2007). The second part will
address the impacts of urban tourism, which include economic,
environment, social, cultural impacts. The third part will address the
link that exists between urban tourism, heritage tourism, and event
Factors that have contributed to the popularity of urban tourism
Motivation to travel to a given tourist destination has continually
become more specific with the change of interest from leisure travel to
the desire to accomplish a specific activity or reason. Although
different types of tourism involve sharing of resources (such as
accommodation, transport, and other overlapping product markets) every
type of tourism focus on the unique interests and activities (Noel, &
Chris, 2010). This implies that the determination of the capacity of any
urban area to establish a sustainable urban tourism sector needs to
consider the product markets that makes it unique as a tourism
destination. The author also identifies that a sustainable urban tourism
is differentiated from other forms of tourism by the type of services
offered and activities undertaken in a given tourism destination.
Following the realization by the stakeholders in urban development and
tourism sectors that the establishment of a sustainable tourism depend
different services and activities, many urban development authorities
are considering proactive approaches to develop strategies that will
create an identity for their cities. Technological innovation plays an
important role in the accomplishment of this objective. Moreover, urban
centers are perceived to be suitable centers for touristy trips because
they have living facilities, leisurely activities, commercial
industries, and other touristy attractions (Estelaji, Sadeghian &
Beyhaghi, 2012). Private investment in tourist facilities in urban areas
has also contributed to growth in this urban tourism (Lu & Nepal, 2009).
The increase in preference of urban tourism over other forms of tourism
has resulted in need for integration of the creative arts and city
regeneration with an objective of enhancing cities’ identity and
making the appropriate destinies for tourism. According to Richards &
Wilson (2006) there are three major techniques used by cities to create
an identity and features that distinguish them from other major cities.
First, different cities focus on the development of new landmark and
flagship projects that act as symbolic icons and unique identity for the
cities. This is accomplished by the wide deployment of signature
architects to create distinctive images. The Bilbao Guggenheim
constructed from the Disney Music Center in Los Angeles is an example of
a modern iconic structure that makes the city distinct from others
(Gospodini, 2001). However, the increasing tendency of cities to create
similar iconic structures may reduce the quality of this technique and
its capacity to enhance identity. For example, the similarity of the
Bilbao created by the Disney Music Center and Bilbao Guggenheim reduces
the identity of the two iconic structures (Rogerson, 2006).
Secondly, stakeholders in tourism industry focus on the construction of
world class cities that are equipped with adequate facilities to
increase tourism arrivals. The construction of modern facilities assists
cities in increasing the number of tourism by attracting mega-events
that utilize these facilities. In addition, research has shown that the
intensity of competition among cities to host sporting and cultural
events has increased significantly. According to Palmer (2004) the
European Capital of Culture attracted over 14 cities each of them
spending approximately one million pound in the bidding process. This
suggests the significance that modern cities attach to events and
perceived capacity of events to enhance the identity of the city as well
as exposing it to the international community.
Third, some cities have been craving to formulate distinguishing
themes in order to enhance their position in the world and increase
their fame. The world cultural city and 24 hour city is among the most
popular themes used by cities to attract festivals and tourism turnover
(Richards & Wilson, 2006). This is viewed as an idea generated by city
leaders to regenerate their cities and create an identity for them.
Heritage mining is used by various cities to regenerate themselves and
attract tourist from different parts of the world. Revalorization of
cultural heritage is the widely used technique in rebuilding cities that
underwent the golden age and the lengthy periods of economic decline
including Girona and Bruges (Richards & Wilson, 2006). However,
deployment of sophisticated technology (such as animation, light shows,
and virtual reality) to enhance the capacity of raw cultural heritage
has become necessary with the decline in the novelty of such heritage
Social and cultural impacts of urban tourism
Urban tourism is one of the social economic activities that encompass an
industry that markets and manages a variety of products to a population
of people with a wide range of preferences, motivation, and cultural
perspectives. The dialectic engagement of this population of tourists
with the host community results in economic, social, cultural, and
environmental impacts to the host community and the entire industry.
First, urban tourism has both positive and negative social and cultural
impacts on the host community. The influx of tourists in a given urban
area brings a diverse values and cultural practices to the community,
thus influencing their family and behavior. The social and cultural
impacts caused by tourism results from the increased opportunities for
recreation and leisure, encouragement of greater variety of cultural
activities for the host community, addition of vitality to the local
region, and provision of the opportunity for the local community to meet
with people from different cultures (Haley, Snaith & Miller, 2004).
A study of the impact of urban tourism revealed that tourism resulted in
improvement in quality of life in Harbin (Gang Li & BAI, 2005). In
addition, the researcher identified that the local residents could
rarely distinguish between the unknown locals from domestic residents
because of the great social and cultural influence by the diverse social
and cultural practices over time. This is a positive impact of the urban
tourism, which has enabled the local community to tolerate social
differences and understanding of different communities. In a similar
study of the impacts of urban tourism on the local community, Edward,
Griffin, Hayllar & Ritchie (2010) identified that tourism has some
negative social and cultural effects. For example, the research found
out that the influx of tourists in Australia resulted in a shift in
consumption of health food to fast food that is sold in chain outlet,
increased rate of alcoholism, and prostitution.
Economic impacts of urban tourism
Urban tourism is a major contributing factor towards economic
development of urban areas. It results in emergence of additional job
opportunities including entry level, low-wage, and high paying
professional jobs). This increases the opportunity for income
generation among the local community and an improvement in their living
standard. A research conducted by Tsundoda (2009) revealed that most
people perceive that tourism has economic benefits in their lives. In
addition, the researcher found out that tourism increased the
opportunities for self-employment through an increase in business
opportunities. Most retailers in Peterborough town stock and develop
special products for tourists making retail business as a source of
employment for the majority of residents. Additionally, the researcher
identified a positive growth in real estate in Peterborough as a result
of an increase in tourist arrivals. The real estate agencies reported an
increase in sale of houses in periods that tourist arrival was high.
Moreover, the research revealed that tourist who gained an interest in
residing in the town after their first visit bought high priced houses
than the local people thus boosting the profitability of the real estate
Although most the research focused more on the positive benefits of
urban tourism, there were some respondents who reported negative
economic effects on the sector in their lives. According to Tsundoda
(2009) growth of urban tourism resulted in an increase in the price of
goods, which increased the cost of living for the residents. In
addition, the researcher identified that the influx of tourists in urban
areas (such as Sydney and Melbourne) causes additional economic
challenges such as increased rents and difficulty of managing commercial
operations and diverse expectations of tourists. However, the negative
economic effects of urban tourism cannot counter its positive impacts.
Environmental impacts of urban tourism
The effect of tourism on the urban environment vary with the extent of
tourist activities in a given urban area and the impact control measures
put in place by the urban authorities. There is a wide range of
environmental pressures created by the damage to the natural environment
in urban areas. First, increase in tourist influx increases the traffic
on urban roads, which is elevated environmental pressure as a result of
noise and vibrations along transport routes (Albalate & Bel, 2010).
Secondly, the development of new architectural structures results in
significant change in the composition of flora and fauna and clearing of
natural vegetations to create room for tourist facilities. In addition,
scattering of litter in urban areas increase during the periods of
tourist influx, which is an element of environmental degradation.
Although most of the environmental pressures are attributed directly to
the tourist influx, research has shown that the degradation results from
lack of cohesive urban development, flow, and land use policy (European
Commission, 2000 and Moghaddam & Ranjbary, 2010) and urban sprawl
(Roshan, Rousta, & Ramesh, 2009). In addition, a research conducted in
Harbin, China revealed that 56 % of the residents disagreed that
environmental degradation in their urban area resulted from tourism
development (Gang Li & BAI, 2005). The research found that tourism
development contributes towards over 70 % of environmental conservation
in the urban areas. This means that the presence of adequate policy
plans, the urban authority can plan for the development of tourist
structures while imparting minimal environmental degradation.
Link between urban tourism and event tourism
Events are viewed, from the tourism industry perspective, as catalysts,
place markers, attraction, and image makers (Getz, 2008). This has
resulted in the consideration of event tourism as major components of
urban development and marketing. He potential benefits associated with
special events (such as the Olympic Games, World Cup, and major business
forums) attracts major cities that compete to stage them. Since the
majority of mega-events helps in established cities and urban areas with
adequate facilities, they promote urban tourism. This suggests a direct
link between urban tourism and event-tourism. While investigating the
impact of mega-sport events with the arrival of tourist, Fourie &
Santana-Gallego (2010) identified that tangible and intangible benefits
that cities get from hosting mega events outweigh the costs. The
researchers analyzed the impact of mega-events from 1995-2000 and
established a direct relationship between tourist arrivals and
mega-events, but the rate of tourist influx vary depending on type of
Both the urban tourism and event-tourism has similar effects (cultural,
social, economic, and environmental) on the communities of the hosting
cities. For example, Ntloko & Swart (2008) identified that event tourism
results in social and economic benefits such as induced community
development, increased property value, and additional business
opportunities, which are similar to the benefits that results of urban
tourism. In addition, the researcher identified similar negative impacts
such as noise, overcrowding, traffic congestion, and disruption of
lifestyle in the hosting community. The research indicated that 56 % of
the residents in cities where sporting events were held in South Africa
experienced parking difficulty, 70 % disruption in the lifestyle of the
residents, and 69 % reported increase in crime in the local areas. The
similarity of the features of the two types of tourism suggests a close
link where event tourism boosts urban tourism by creating peak periods
shortly before, during, and shortly after the event. Sport-events have
similar social and economic benefits to the hosting community as those
provided by urban tourism (Ross & Hritz, 2010).
Link between urban tourism and heritage tourism
Urban tourism and heritage tourism are separate, but inextricably
connected types of tourism where growth in heritage sector contributed
significantly towards tourism development. Heritage tourism is motivated
by site attributes, personal characteristics, perceptions, and behavior
(Poria, Butler & Airey, 2003). According to Pothof (2006) heritage
refers to cultural traditions and historical buildings of the previous
generations. These passed down features are often regenerated by the
urban authorities of the urban areas where they are located to act as
tourist attraction sites. Heritage has now become a major area of
interest in tourism development in cities where research focus on
different aspects of peculiarity such as cultural and social
heterogeneity, high physical density of functions, people, and
structures. This make cities and town`s tourism-historical attractive
and centers for assemblage of heritage. Research has shown a growing
interest of the stakeholders to control heritage resources in various
cities such as New York, Mexico, and Pennsylvania (Porter & Salazar,
2005). This is because the regeneration of the heritage resources
available in these cities contributes significantly the growth in urban
tourism. However, heritage mining is still a major problem in the
developing cities because the available procedures are difficult to
implement without adequate resources (Assi, 2008).
Cities with specially constructed itineraries have a higher influx of
tourists because tourism is consciously guided by these itineraries.
While studying the effect of heritage in urban tourism in Girona city,
Galí Espelt & Donaire Benito (2008) identified that tourism related to
heritage if affected by different factors such as gender, cultural
level, or origin of the residents. This means that given that cities
have diverse culture and age groups they have a better opportunity to
regenerate through heritage mining. The popularity of heritage tourism
in the cities has a direct relationship with the increase in urban
tourism since the lovers of heritage can find it in the cities. Many
cities are emphasizing on cultural heritage with a major focus on built
heritage because of its capacity to attract more tourists in the cities.
The increasing significance of emerging contemporary issues (such as
heritage tourism and event tourism) in the tourism industry necessitates
a comprehensive study of their impacts and the link they have with urban
tourism. Although urban tourism gained popularity within the last few
decades, the close link with the two contemporary issues has contributed
greatly towards the increase in the number and frequency of urban
visitors. In addition, the researchers have been keen enough to note the
significance of these emerging trends in the tourism industry, thus
creating awareness among the stakeholders. Consequently, many city
developers, policy makers, and stakeholders in urban areas have
perceived the benefits they can gain by enhancing the identity of their
respective cities through heritage mining and attracting special and
It is clear, from the current study that, although each of the three
factors (urban tourism, heritage tourism, and event tourism) can stand
alone, urban areas have untapped potential to attract them
simultaneously. However, the main benefits that the cities can obtain
are the magnification of the gains of any one of them since they all
have similar impacts to the urban areas. For example, an ordinary city
with urban city only can increase its revenue gained from urban tourism
activities by regenerating heritage facilities if it has some and
organizing major events within its grounds in order to attract heritage
tourists and events tourists respectively. This is mainly because the
touring sector is continually becoming specific given that people tour
in a place to achieve a specific purpose or to satisfy a given desire.
This implies that a person who is interested in sports may not be
interested in heritage resources, thus having the all the facilities in
the same city will attract the three categories of tourists. This means
that each of the three components of tourism complements the impacts of
the others, but cannot substitute them.
However, with the increase in competition among the cities to enhance
their identity through iconic structures, cities should avoid creating
similar structures in order to retain the impact made by these
structures in the tourism industry. Moreover, city authorities should
consider the environmental degradation that result from the massive
development of tourist facilities. This is because environmental
degradation may scare aware environmentally conscious people who may
wish to tour in these urban areas, thus reducing the significance of
rapid growth of tourism facilities in the long-run.
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