Across the globe, from established tourist destinations such as Venice or Prague to less traditional destinations in both the global North and South, there is mounting evidence that points to an increasing politicization of the topic of urban tourism. In some cities, residents and other stakeholders take issue with the growth of tourism as such, as well as the negative impacts it has on their cities; while in others, particular forms and effects of tourism are contested or deplored. In numerous settings, contestations revolve less around tourism itself than around broader processes, policies and forces of urban change perceived to threaten the right to ‘stay put’, the quality of life or identity of existing urban populations.
This book for the first time looks at urban tourism as a source of contention and dispute and analyses what type of conflicts and contestations have emerged around urban tourism in 16 cities across Europe, North America, South America and Asia. It explores the various ways in which community groups, residents and other actors have responded to – and challenged – tourism development in an international and multi-disciplinary perspective. The title links the largely discrete yet interconnected disciplines of ‘urban studies’ and ‘tourism studies’ and draws on approaches and debates from urban sociology; urban policy and politics; urban geography; urban anthropology; cultural studies; urban design and planning; tourism studies and tourism management.
This ground breaking volume offers new insight into the conflicts and struggles generated by urban tourism and will be of interest to students, researchers and academics from the fields of tourism, geography, planning, urban studies, development studies, anthropology, politics and sociology.
List of tables and illustrations
1. Urban tourism and its discontents: an introduction
(Johannes Novy and Claire Colomb)
2. No conflict? Discourses and management of tourism-related tensions in Paris
(Maria Gravari-Barbas and Sébastien Jacquot)
3. The selling (out) of Berlin and the de- and re-politicization of urban tourism in Europe’s ‘Capital of Cool’
4. Touristification and awakening civil society in post-socialist Prague
(Michaela Pixová and Jan Sládek)
5 Density wars in Silicon Beach: the struggle to mix new spaces for toil, stay and play in Santa Monica, California
6. Contesting China’s tourism wave. Identity politics, protest, and the rise of the Hongkonger city state movement
7. From San Francisco’s ‘Tech Boom 2.0’ to Valparaíso’s UNESCO World Heritage Site: resistance to tourism gentrification in a comparative political perspective
8. Tourism provision as protest in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
9. The “No Grandi Navi” campaign. Protests against cruise tourism in Venice
10. Favela tourism: negotiating visitors, socio-economic benefits, image and representation in Pre-Olympics Rio de Janeiro
11. Politics as early as possible: democratising Olympics by contesting Olympic bids
12. Attracting international tourism through mega-events and the birth of a conflict culture in Belo Horizonte
(Lucia Capanema Alvares, Altamiro S. Mol Bessa, Thiago Pinto Barbosa and Karina Machado de Castro Simão)
13. The right to Gaudí. What can we learn from the commoning of Park Güell, Barcelona?
(Albert Arias-Sans and Antonio Paolo Russo)
14. Of artisans, antique dealers, and ambulant vendors: culturally stratified conflicts in Buenos Aires’ historic centre
15. The abrupt rise (and fall) of creative entrepreneurs: socio-economic change, the visitor economy and social conflict in a traditional neighbourhood of Shanghai
16. The Living vs. the dead in Singapore: contesting the authoritarian tourist city
(Jason D. Luger)
17. “Fantasies of antithesis”: Assessing Hamburg’s Gängeviertel as a tourist attraction
Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City
Edited by Claire Colomb and Johannes Novy
1 Urban tourism and its discontents: an introduction
Johannes Novy and Claire Colomb
Across the globe, from established tourist cities to less traditional urban destinations, mounting evidence points to an increasing politicization of what hitherto had been a minor issue in urban political struggles. This politicization of urban tourism manifests itself in different ways: local residents may take issue with tourism and its impacts as such; while other contestations revolve around broader processes and forces of urban change of which tourism is only a part. This introductory chapter establishes the context for the rise of urban tourism as a key component of urban development strategies, as a powerful force of urban change and as a source of contention. It contends that the subject matter of ‘protest and resistance in the tourist city’ is often best understood as part of broader struggles and urban social movements surrounding contemporary urban restructuring and governance patterns. It presents a brief taxonomy of the conflicts and contestations surrounding tourism that can be observed in the cities of the Global North and South covered by the subsequent chapters of the volume.
2 No conflict? Discourses and management of tourism-related tensions in Paris
Maria Gravari-Barbas and Sébastien Jacquot
This chapter analyses tourism-related conflicts in Paris (France), the quintessential tourist city, and argues that there is an apparent lack of visible social contestation surrounding tourism as such. Existing residents’ associations have, nonetheless, integrated claims about the negative impacts of the visitor economy into their broader struggles to defend the ‘quality of life’ of Parisians. These claims are not embedded within broader mobilisations against gentrification or neoliberal urban development, and are made by middle class residents who are part of the transformation processes which changed the social base of most Paris districts. Moreover, subtle forms of resistance are also expressed via forms of ‘infrapolitics’ or ‘micropolitics’, as well as bottom-up approaches offering alternatives to mainstream tourism.
3 The selling (out) of Berlin and the de- and re-politicization of urban tourism in Europe’s ‘Capital of Cool’
Tourism promotion has become a defining feature of Berlin’s increasingly entrepreneurial approach to urban development, yet there has been a notable absence of tourism policy, planning and management by the city’s authorities. The chapter outlines the controversies surrounding the growth and impacts of tourism in Berlin (Germany) and argues that since 2010, there has been a re-politicization of tourism as a policy field. After years of being treated in technocratic fashion, tourism has become increasingly controversially discussed and contested. Critical voices have been concerned about its adverse effects on neighbourhoods and residents, while its advocates have begun to worry about the future prospects of Berlin as a destination if the very attributes which made it successful are threatened by mass tourism. Tourism-related mobilisations are thus not so much ‘anti-tourist’ as they are critical of the city government’s approach towards tourism development and management.
4 Touristification and awakening civil society in post-socialist Prague
Michaela Pixová and Jan Sládek
This chapter analyses the forms of citizens’ activism which have emerged in reaction to the socio-spatial changes of Prague’s historic core. The chapter first introduces the context, causes and implications of the historic core’s ‘touristification’ and depopulation since 1990. The chapter then outlines the emergence of bottom-up social mobilizations surrounding urban issues in post-socialist Prague (Czech Republic) and examines the focus, modes of action, and claims of these mobilizations, with particular focus on their engagement with tourism-related issues. It provides an account of the spread of civic engagement and of the gradual opening of the municipal government to public input after 2010. The chapter shows that activists in Prague blame the historic core’s problems on mismanagement by local public authorities, not on tourism or tourists as such, and that they have consequently campaigned for better governance to address contentious local issues.
5 Density wars in Silicon Beach: the struggle to mix new spaces for toil, stay and play in Santa Monica, California
This chapter analyses the recent conflicts surrounding urban development in Santa Monica, one of California’s premier tourist destinations and a dynamic centre for the growing creative economy of the Los Angeles megaregion. The new, developer-friendly local political climate contrasts with an earlier tradition of lower-density, progressive urban development policies that were focused on the provision of public benefits. New residents and temporary visitors clash with long-term residents in their vision for the city’s future and attitude to new development and densification. Three vignettes illustrate these conflicts: how hotel workers have fought for living wage ordinances and fair treatment in the tourism industry; how residents have fought back against the perceived over-densification of their city; and how the sharp increase in short-term vacation rentals advertised via platforms such as AirBnB has exacerbated the area’s housing affordability crisis and become a contentious topic.
6 Contesting China’s tourism wave. Identity politics, protest, and the rise of the Hongkonger city state movement
Hong Kong has in recent years known an acute surge in the number of mainland Chinese tourists and day-trippers visiting its territory (47 million in 2014), with visible consequences for Hongkongers’ daily life. This has generated growing discontent, protests and “anti-mainland” sentiments among part of the Hong Kong population. The causes and manifestations of the grassroot protests against mainland Chinese traders, tourists, and tourism are explored in detail, as well the Hong Kong regime’s reaction to those protests and its tentative responses to the impacts of mainland Chinese tourism. The chapter contextualises the protests within broader struggles surrounding identity politics and the relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which are illustrated by the emergence of Hong Kong City State, localist and nativist sentiments. Chinese tourism in Hong-Kong has become a profoundly political phenomenon with far-reaching geopolitical, national unity and security implications.
7 From San Francisco’s ‘Tech Boom 2.0’ to Valparaíso’s UNESCO World Heritage Site: resistance to tourism gentrification in a comparative political perspective
This chapter provides a comparison of tourism gentrification processes in San Francisco (United States) and Valparaíso (Chile), and of the social mobilizations which have emerged to contest such processes. Tourism gentrification is a relevant notion to analyse the local effects of changes in tourism policies and in the constellation of actors in cities experiencing a surge in tourism flows and capital. In San Francisco, corporate-led touristification and the emergence of new actors in the tourism industry, such as Airbnb, have fuelled gentrification processes and intensified the displacement and housing dispossession of local inhabitants. In Valparaíso, the designation of the historic centre as a UNESCO World Heritage Site triggered an increase in tourism flows and the gentrification of particular neighbourhoods. The chapter then outlines the social mobilizations and forms of activism which community and housing advocacy groups in both cities have developed to resist (tourism) gentrification processes.
8 Tourism provision as protest in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
This chapter analyses the interaction of tourism development with the long-standing ethno-nationalist conflict in Belfast (Northern Ireland). It demonstrates tourism’s capability to both exacerbate and mitigate urban conflicts typically falsely conceived as fully separate from tourism per se. Government tourism policies since the mid-1980s have exacerbated the economic, spatial, and symbolic exclusion of the communities who have most suffered from the legacy of ‘the Troubles’. But sidelined communities have developed tactics to use tourism as a tool of protest by creating alternative tourism offers to challenge ‘official’ tourism services and narratives, cultivate group recognition, and secure economic benefits. The chapter contends that tourism has created a new field of interaction between the city’s Catholic and Protestant communities, at times provoking cultural identity contests and competition between the two communities, and at other times providing opportunities for intergroup contact and cooperation.
9 The “No Grandi Navi” campaign. Protests against cruise tourism in Venice
This chapter analyses the emergence of a broad urban social movement protesting against the impacts of cruise tourism in Venice (Italy), one of the world’s cities most heavily threatened by tourism. The chapter unpacks the composition of the Committee “No Grandi Navi – Laguna Bene Comune”, a coalition of heterogeneous actors which have attempted to influence the local planning process and lobby public authorities for more stringent regulations of cruise ship traffic. The movement’s modes of action - combining strategies of ‘institution’, ‘association’ and ‘lobbying’ - are explored, as well as its shift in discourse towards the concept of the ‘Commons’ after 2011. The movement has acted as a catalyst for the convergence of very different actors (e.g. a social centre and an environmental association) concerned with Venice’s decline as a ‘lived city’, in a challenging political context which has prioritized tourism growth at all costs.
10 Favela tourism: negotiating visitors, socio-economic benefits, image and representation in Pre-Olympics Rio de Janeiro
This chapter analyses the emergence of ‘favela tourism’ (‘slum tourism’, ‘poverty tourism’, or ‘poorism’) in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Following an overview of the historical rise and driving forces of poverty tourism around the world, the chapter examines the various forms which favela tourism has taken in Rio, in the context of the programmes for the pacification of favelas (squatter or informal settlements) which have accompanied the preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. The chapter analyses the relationships between visitors, residents and intermediary agents which characterise various form of favela tourism; the conflicts and tensions generated by its growth; and finally the critiques and modes of resistance developed by favela residents. It concludes with an assessment of the impacts of favela tourism and the possible future areas of conflicts stemming from the favela’s ‘touristification’.
11 Politics as early as possible: democratising Olympics by contesting Olympic bids
This chapter discusses the urban politics and forms of activism and protest which have surrounded bids for sports mega-events, on the basis of a comparative study of 67 Olympic bids (dated 1991 to 2012) and of the related social mobilizations which have contested Olympic projects at the early stages of bidding or planning. While mega-events can generate temporary gains in tourism economies and facilitate the pursuit of long-term urban development goals, the mega-event bidding and planning processes often bypass normal processes of democratic deliberation and introduce a ‘democratic displacement’ in the city: decisions made at the early stages of bidding establish path dependencies in urban politics and displace subsequent deliberation. One increasingly common response is the formation of social movements which contest Olympic projects early on at the bidding stage. These mobilisations are increasingly successful in disrupting and challenging the political legitimacy of mega-event-led urban development in the tourist city.
12 Attracting international tourism through mega-events and the birth of a conflict culture in Belo Horizonte
Lucia Capanema Alvares, Altamiro S. Mol Bessa, Thiago Pinto Barbosa and Karina Machado de Castro Simão
This chapter discusses the role of urban tourism and mega-events as a socially contested strategy of urban development in Brazil, by focusing on the large-scale development projects launched in Belo Horizonte - a mid-sized Brazilian metropolitan area - in the run-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. These projects – such as new transport infrastructure, sports facilities or commercial real estate – have often been accompanied by mass evictions and large amount of public investment at the detriment of social infrastructure. The conflicts they have generated have brought together diverse social movements under the banner of the Popular Committee of the FIFA World Cup Victims (COPAC), in a series of protests particularly intense in 2013: favela residents’ associations, lower- and middle-class neighbourhood associations and anti-hegemonic movements all united against the tourism- and event-led development strategy of the city government.
13 The right to Gaudí. What can we learn from the commoning of Park Güell, Barcelona?
Albert Arias-Sans and Antonio Paolo Russo
The chapter discusses the tensions between pressures for privatisation and demands for ‘commoning’ in over-used tourist spaces, through an analysis of the social conflicts surrounding the plans announced in 2011 by the municipal government of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) to enclose and restrict access to the Park Güell. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the park has become one of the city’s most visited attractions. In October 2013, access to its central area was made subject to an entrance fee. This decision was contested by the Platform for the Defence of the Park Güell, a social mobilization which defended the free right to the park for everyone, including tourists, inspired by the notion of the Commons. Following the structure of a Greek tragedy, the chapter analyses the different stages of the conflict and unpacks the various arguments made by the different social actors involved, outlining the limits of the formal public participation process.
14 Of artisans, antique dealers, and ambulant vendors: culturally stratified conflicts in Buenos Aires’ historic centre
Through a case-study of a street-based tourist market in the historic neighbourhood of San Telmo, Buenos Aires (Argentina), this chapter analyses how residents of divergent social and class backgrounds seek to obtain material advantages from the lucrative visitor economy and touristic reshaping of the city. Everyday vendors and artisans engage in complex strategies of symbolic ownership of the street by creating multiple linkages to local institutions and appealing to legitimized artistic identities and forms of cultural production. These strategies involve individual creativity and agency, yet they are also shaped by the hidden mechanisms of social and cultural power. Urban tourism thus profoundly reshapes not only the relationship between visitors and local residents, but also existing forms of local stratification and inequality between the residents of a city recovering from economic crisis.
15 The abrupt rise (and fall) of creative entrepreneurs: socio-economic change, the visitor economy and social conflict in a traditional neighbourhood of Shanghai
This chapter uses an ethnographic lens to investigate the conflicts between old and new residents in a traditional neighbourhood in Shanghai (China). Since the 2000s, the city’s historic lilong have become increasingly popular with young creative entrepreneurs who have opened small-scale, often unlicensed businesses such as cafés and design stores, thereby successfully attracting many tourists and visitors to these traditional residential alleyways. The chapter documents how tensions began to arise between the long-term and the new residents of the lilong due to the unequal distribution of the material benefits generated by the growing visitor and creative economy. This led to an abrupt crackdown on the lilong’s unlicensed businesses by public authorities. The chapter illustrates a form of contention around the distributional impacts of the creative and visitor economy in a historic residential neighbourhood, rather than one of protest against tourism as such.
16 The Living vs. the dead in Singapore: contesting the authoritarian tourist city
Jason D. Luger
In Singapore, the official promotion of the city-state as a cultural, entertainment and shopping destination has generated some resistance, as ‘elite spaces’ such as the Botanic Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are prioritized over less formal spaces which are highly valued by local residents, such as the Bukit Brown Chinese cemetery. The chapter analyses the practices of a loose network of individuals and grassroots groups which have come together to stop the destruction of, and re-claim, the cemetery. Through the concept of ‘guerilla tourism’ - based on de Certeau’s notion of ‘going off the pathway’ - the chapter shows how alternative (tourism) narratives are performed through the act of walking and transgressing boundaries, thus subtly contesting and re-shaping hegemonic urban development agendas in the authoritarian tourist city.
17 “Fantasies of antithesis”: Assessing Hamburg’s Gängeviertel as a tourist attraction
This chapter analyses the story of the Gängeviertel, a building complex in Hamburg (Germany), threatened with demolition and squatted by a heterogeneous collective of artists, political activists and others in 2009. The occupied complex has since then undergone a process of legalisation, institutionalisation, co-optation, partial commercialisation and refurbishment through negotiations between the collective and the city council. The chapter illustrates how a space of social and cultural protest, resistance and creative autonomy can become a ‘tourist attraction’ integrated into city branding and ‘creative city’ policies, and attract both passive consumers and committed visitors who seek to get involved in the practices and ‘commoning process’ of the Gängeviertel collective. The chapter discusses the opportunities, as well as the ambiguities and tensions, which the primacy given to openness to visitors (more than radical autonomy) entails.