Urban Tourism


By Dr. Solmaz Rezaei
Head of research and consulting department


Tourism is an industry with less consequences unlike other industries. According to the definition of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), tourism refers to all activities that a person has for his recreation, use of natural spaces, treatment, and economic activities etc., outside his or her residence for a maximum period of one year. Tourism can be defined from other dimensions such as travel time, spatial distances, motives and goals, and has its own characteristics. Tourism is an industrial development that plays an effective role in promoting the social, economic and cultural structures of societies and is considered as a pillar for sustainable development. In many emerging industrialized countries, the tourism industry is a newborn industry and many economic experts believe that its attractions will become world’s largest export industry in less than a decade, which encourages countries to move towards a sustainable growth in this field.
Urban tourism is a term that takes into account multiple tourist activities as an initial definition, in which cities are the main destination. In another definition, urban tourism includes the interactions between tourists and hostels and the creation of tourism space around travelling to cities with different motives and the use of tourism facilities and services. Urban tourism incentives include attending conferences, visiting cultural heritage, religious trips, therapeutic purposes, recreation, administrative activities, educational issues and personal reasons. In this tourism process, as a gateway to countries, cities are the location of residential centers and the origin of nature programs, which are a good place to attract domestic and foreign tourists due to the accumulation of civil institutions and social infrastructure. Due to a change in the lifestyle of people in recent decades, where time is considered as the most valuable component of life, especially for urban citizens, the growth of short trips has made cities one of the most important tourist destinations, which the average travel time for tourists is a sign for this phenomenon.
Urban tourism, which considering modern definition, did not exist until the 80’s, is significantly related to the technological development of cities in various areas, such as roads, transportation and railways. In the current era, traveling to cities is easier, faster, and in many cases cheaper, which has made cities a popular tourist destination around the world. In this regard, a concept called TBD (Tourism Business District) has been introduced as the representation of spatial production of tourism in cities; A region at the city were tourist attractions and their needs are provided along with the CBD functions (Central Business District) (the central business district or the city center). In other words, in the form of metropolitan tourism, space is packaged and commercially available to them. This is due to the fact that tourists want their accommodation, transportation, administrative, financial, banking, insurance facilities, etc., in the vicinity of tourism attractions.
In the current era, integrated urban management has a concept beyond the city administration. In a comprehensive view, urban management has a strategic position in shaping the vision of a city at all dimensions with a sustainable urban development approach, which requires continuous interactions with the political, social and economic structures of the city. Meanwhile, policy-making in the field of sustainable urban tourism which supports the local economic system, brings local community participation into account, pays particular attention to the marketing principles of the tourism industry and provides citizens with basic training in this area, is one of the main tasks of urban management. This management has fundamental responsibilities in dealing with sustainable tourism. Smart city management should pay special attention to urban tourism capacity in the development of urban projects and expand infrastructure facilities for the industry based on sustainable urban development principles. For example, measures such as the construction of tourist parks in large cities in seasons with maximum tourist attraction, as well as efforts to establish local markets in order to create economic opportunities for citizens, can be effective in optimal use of urban tourism capacities. Urban tourism boosts city revenues and pumps a great deal of currency into the economic arteries of the city. In other words, this industry leads to an economic flow called “invisible exports”.
It should be noted that the development of urban tourism will be coordinated with the indicators of sustainable development that will not be destructive and protect valuable resources such as water, soil, and biological resources for future generations. Also, with regard to the goals of sustainable urban development, urban tourism should be in a positive relationship with other urban functions. In other words, in planning, it should provide the optimal functioning of the supply and demand system of tourism, which includes three levels of the market, urban growth and local communities, taking into account environmental, social, economic, cultural and physical factors.
It should be noted that excessive focus on tourism activities may disrupt other economic activities of the city and also the economic balance of the city. On the other hand, the tendency of workers in other economic areas to work part-time in the urban tourism industry will diminish the impact of this industry on reducing overall unemployment.
According to a WTO survey, in 2010 the tourism industry generated an income of over $ 1,550 billion in revenue from the world, and the organization has registered jobs 2.1 times faster than other areas of the economy. At present, the best and most popular destinations for urban tourism in the world include Hong Kong, London, Singapore, Bangkok, Paris, Macau, Shenzhen, New York, Istanbul, Bali, Rome and Barcelona.