Urban tourism is a term describing multiple tourist activities in which city is main destination and place of interest. This form of tourism is relatively old and very complex. Cities were always purpose of many journeys and trips although it becomes more and more popular phenomenon since 50's. As a subject of research urban tourism didn't exist before 80's and till 90's was very underestimated. Tourism within cities is strongly connected with their growth and technology development as well (roads, transportation, railway).
Travelling to cities became easier, faster and in many cases cheaper than it was decades ago. Important fact is that the awareness of possibilities that come with urban tourism rose significantly over the years.
Urban tourism products
City can offer variety of products or services which become objects demanded by people on the tourist market. Product, which city has to offer for tourists, can be anything material or non material, i.e. specific location, particular place (museum, cultural, religious, entertainment), city services or even specific city development (transport, building, architecture).
In literature there are many examples of urban tourism products like sport areas and festivals, events created to attract international and domestic tourists. Urban tourism includes many other types of tourism for example cultural tourism as culture is one of the most important motives for travelling.
In cities different forms of tourist activities are concentrated:
- visiting friends and family,
- business venues,
- participation in congresses, conferences,
- entertainment (events, clubs),
All the activities listed above are included in term in-the-city tourism, however they are not always identified as urban tourism, and could be part of other types of tourism (e.g. religious, cultural).
Growth of tourism in the cities is connected with main attributes of the city such as:
- number and diversity of attractions,
- proximity to other attractions,
- level of transport,
- quality and size of accommodation,
- effectiveness of marketing and promotion.
Typical urban tourism attractions
- historical monuments, ancient statues, unique street patterns,
- museums, art galleries,
- cinemas, concert venues, concert halls, theatres,
- convention centres, conference centres,
- nightclubs, bars, dance clubs, casinos,
- cafes, restaurants,
- shopping centres, fashion shows,
- sport facilities, amusement facilities, organized events,
- parks, green areas, botanic gardens.
Effect of urban tourism
Dynamic development of urban tourism is source of employment and growing incomes in the urban areas as well as cause of cultural and social growth (increased quality of life, income redistribution). However it brings also negative effects such as air pollution, noise and decreased availability of the city centre and attractions important to local inhabitants (parks, cultural and recreational areas).
Trends in alternative tourism
As mass urban tourism may affect the areas nowadays it is popular to speak about sustainable urban tourism (i.e. alternative tourism). Sustainability is popular in many fields, in urban tourism it considers meeting needs of tourists and needs of local people at the same time.
Popular trend among tourists is to spend rather shorter (2-7 days) periods of time in the urban areas (weekend breaks, city breaks).
Urban tourism paradoxes
- it is hard to explain why people are attracted to visit some cities, answering question Why visit cities? involve analysing broad range of human motivations without any distinctive factor,
- selectivity - tourists usually use only a very small portion of all that city has to offer,
- rapidity - length of stay in city is relatively short,
- repetition - tourist usually don't go back to city visited,
- capriciousness - tourist are susceptible to fashion, they often change taste and attitudes towards tourists attractions,
Urban tourism top destinations
- Hong Kong,
- New York City,
Examples of Urban tourism
- Sightseeing: Sightseeing is one of the most popular forms of urban tourism. It involves visiting and exploring the local attractions, monuments and landmarks of a city. For example, tourists can take a tour of the historic city center of Rome to admire the Colosseum and the Pantheon, or visit the beautiful architecture and gardens of Versailles in France.
- Shopping: Shopping is another popular form of urban tourism. Tourists can visit local markets and shops to buy souvenirs and other products, which typically represent the culture of the city. For instance, tourists visiting Paris can purchase designer clothes, luxury perfume, and other items associated with the city's fashion industry.
- Dining: Dining is also a popular form of urban tourism. Tourists can explore the city's dining options, from traditional local dishes to international cuisines. For example, tourists visiting Tokyo can enjoy the city's world-famous sushi or ramen dishes.
- Sports: Many cities offer a variety of sports activities that tourists can enjoy. For example, tourists visiting Los Angeles can attend a Lakers basketball game in the Staples Center or a Dodgers baseball game in Dodger Stadium.
- Nightlife: Cities often offer exciting nightlife experiences that tourists can enjoy. For example, tourists visiting Las Vegas can explore the city's vibrant casinos and clubs, while tourists in New York can enjoy the city's many bars and clubs.
Advantages of Urban tourism
Urban tourism provides numerous advantages to both tourists and cities. These include:
- Improved city infrastructure: Urban tourism often results in improved infrastructure within the city, including better transportation systems, improved public spaces, and better accommodation options. This can benefit both tourists and locals alike.
- Increased economic growth: Urban tourism brings in more money to the local economy, which can lead to increased job opportunities, improved public services, and better standards of living for local residents.
- Cultural enrichment: Urban tourism can bring about an increased appreciation for the culture and history of the city, and can help to preserve its unique characteristics.
- Improved local services: Urban tourism can help to improve local services, such as restaurants, retail stores, and entertainment venues, making the city a more attractive destination for tourists.
- Improved sustainability: Urban tourism can help to promote sustainable development and reduce the environmental impact of tourism by encouraging more efficient transportation and more ecologically conscious practices.
Limitations of Urban tourism
Urban tourism has some limitations that should be taken into consideration. These limitations include:
- High costs of urban tourism: Cities are usually more expensive than rural areas and the cost of accommodation, attractions, food, transportation and other services can be higher than in other tourist destinations.
- Unsustainable tourism practices: Tourists visiting cities often end up causing environmental damage, overtaxing the city’s resources, and taking away from the locals’ quality of life.
- Lack of infrastructure: Many cities do not have the infrastructure to support large influxes of tourists. This can lead to overcrowding and other safety issues.
- Security concerns: Cities can sometimes be dangerous for tourists, especially to those unfamiliar with the area.
- Lack of authenticity: Many cities are filled with tourist traps and attractions that are geared towards tourists, and not authentic local culture.
- Lack of diversity: Cities can often be homogenous in terms of attractions, cuisine, and culture, leaving little variety for those looking to explore beyond the typical tourist spots.
In conclusion, these limitations should be taken into consideration when planning a trip to an urban destination.
Urban tourism is a form of tourism that has been gaining more and more popularity since the 1950s. It is a complex phenomenon that is strongly connected with the growth and development of cities as well as the development of technology (roads, transportation, railway). Other approaches related to urban tourism include:
- Ecotourism - this form of tourism is focused on visiting natural sites and locations, and observing the natural environment in its original, unaltered state.
- Cultural Tourism - this type of tourism seeks to explore and experience the culture of a particular region, including its language, music, art, history and architecture.
- Shopping Tourism - this is a popular form of tourism that involves visiting cities and towns with the aim of buying new products, souvenirs and other items.
- Food and Drink Tourism - this involves travelling to a region to sample the local cuisine and drinks, and is a popular form of tourism for foodies.
In conclusion, urban tourism is a complex phenomenon which is closely connected to the growth and development of cities and technology. Other approaches related to urban tourism include Ecotourism, Cultural Tourism, Shopping Tourism and Food and Drink Tourism.
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