Friday, May 24, 2013


1.0 Introduction
As part of the Urban Poverty and Local Economic Development series, I look at the generic costs and benefits of the tourism industry. The principal concern is the way in which cities are shaped by efforts to attract and control visitors, cities’ approach to tourism as a poverty reduction strategy and also as a mechanism to promote local economic development. Also in this series, attention has been given to the necessary conditions to facilitate this potential and how tourism development has evolved over the years.  At the national and regional level, the contribution of tourism to GDP is immense (Paris Region, 2010), yet when the subject matter is narrowed down to the city level, several challenges and issues emerge. Subsequently, in this paper these issues in addition to the implication for planning and policies on urban poverty and local economic development are discussed. 

2.0 Conceptualization of the Trend of the Tourism Development
Two key concepts have influenced the broader understanding of tourism in cities. This relates to the relationships between tourism and urban space structures namely: the theory of Fordism and Post-Fordism (Hiernaux-Nicolas, 2003). Fordism refers to mass production, mass consumption, a social welfare state, and a steadily improving aggregate national political economy valorizing production (Passavant, 2009). These two industrial movements have had a very important influence on the development of western cities (Beek et al, 2000) and have underpinned tourist development in many western cities. Luxurious urban spaces, conventions centers, corporate buildings, among others are characteristics of this; and New York, Chicago, and Florida are examples of the manifestation of the theory. The foundation of this theory for tourism is funded on entertainment, leisure and beautification which are spurred by economic development in the downtowns of cities. 

The consequence has been an increase competition for tourist dollars and making cities marketable and branded places (Passavant, 2009). This competition has influenced the development of the necessary infrastructure for tourism and has also diluted the tourist-market base for cities. The challenge of this approach is well documented by Hiernaux-Nicolas (2003) in his review of the tourism sector of Mexico. In response to this, Post-Fordism theorist have advocated for an approach that builds diversity, integration, flexibility, dispersal, decentralization, and optimalism (Beek et al, 2000). Yet, this approach offers an implication for strategizing in terms of innovation based on city dynamism and uniqueness at any point in time to attract tourists. Indeed the success of any tourist destination and the continual benefits of tourism rest on cities ability to provide new ways of increasing and sustaining the interests of the tourists; and beautification is one way to do that. 

3.0 Local Economic Development and Tourism Development
3.1 Strategies for Tourism Development
City Beautification (Enclaves)
In reading the papers and other literary materials, several strategies for tourism development emerge. The first strategy appeals to the visual sensation of tourists and have been the driving force for attracting tourist (Judd, 2003). Safety, security and serenity are critical to tourism. Visual representations are a crucial tool in the tourist practice today and a large quantity of tourist information, values and narration is mediated via visual representations (Tegtmeyer, 2011). The mark difference in the movement of individuals to New York for urban tourism contrary to Detroit is evidence in this context. 

However, this approach is not without challenges even though it has received a great deal of attention for downtown rejuvenation. Hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping centers, convention centers, night clubs, casinos and museums are investments that have been aimed to attract tourists (Judd, 2003). These are typical of major economic sector projects within cities and carries important symbolic weight towards job creation, economic growth and revenue generation. They encompass tourism-related developments such as a “convention center and sports stadium; on publicly subsidized amusement centers; and on ‘edu-tainment’ facilities, such as the city's science installations, casino, generate substantial revenues.’ In addition, the Vieux-Port and summer festivals have also produced financial returns, in addition to community quality-of-life benefits (Levine, 2003).

Cultural Tourism
The arts and culture are also ways of promoting tourism in cities. It builds on fashion arcades, paintings, sculptures, music, chorography and the theatre of arts. Several studies provide evidence to suggest the attraction contributions of this strategy to city growth (Currid, 2007; Markusen, 2003; Markusen and King, 2003).  As an economic development strategy the question that emerges practically relates to the sustainability of the ventures in the phase of fleeting revenues and reliance on grants. By their nature creativity is imperatively dependent on continuous innovation and creation of new art works. 

In addition to these are the historical and anthropological components of the strategy. The strategy builds a relationship between people and place dynamics. In addition, ethnicity and diversity are central to this perception (Errington and Gewertz, 1989 and Echtner and Jamal, 1997).  Benefits to city economies include the formation of creative industries that facilitate the opportunity to create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases. In addition, creative industries are contributing to the contemporary workforce. They also make creative contributions to industries’ products and services as well as infuse culture into community development (NGA Center for Best Practices 2009).

This approach to tourism is much pronounced at the periphery of metropolitan areas. And because most cities are already built up it is mostly difficult to promote tourism in downtowns by adopting this strategy. The approach relies on the aesthetic values of the natural environments such as the beaches, forests, wild-life and the mountains. The only aspect of this strategy that may be feasible for cities is the construction of city parks. This would thus influence mainly internal tourism development that may have limited economic returns as a result of the limited attraction potential. Nonetheless as the evidence from Mexico has shown building internal tourism markets is as relevant as building an external tourism market (Hiernaux-Nicolas 2003). Urban and city parks have benefits that are health and social related thus compensating for the limited economic potentials.

In Ghana and most developing countries tourism development is synonymous to this strategy in addition to the arts and culture that relies heavily on indigenous traditions, colonial history and the natural environment. This has been feasible because of the availability of such potentials. Unfortunately, despite these potential commitment to developing the tourism sector is mainly not seen as a city strategy but rather a general national strategy that identify specific points of focus for development and as rural economic development potential. The monotony of these potentials is mostly not accompanied by a beautification component as well as the needed infrastructure. This in many ways has limited the potential of ecotourism as a local economic development strategy in many developing countries. 

Regulation of Tourism
Hoffman et al (2003) and Hoffman (2003) identifies that in the effort to promote tourism in recent times, cities are increasingly adopting different regulatory frameworks as strategies for the development of city tourism. These authors articulate four regulatory frameworks that structure relations within the tourism milieu including: regulation of visitors to protect the city; regulation that benefit visitors and the tourism industry; regulation of labor markets for the benefit of capital, labor, and place; and regulation of the industry for the benefit of place, consumers, and labor. The aim is to improve the capacity of cities to provide the necessary conditions that facilitate city tourism while at the same time ameliorating any negative effects that may emerge both for tourists and the cities. 

This may fit into Squires (2003) suggestion of balance development that espouses a “pareto optimal” principle in local economic strategy. The framework adopted by these authors offers a cognitive appreciation of the broader issues of tourism development not merely as a tool for economic development but also as a strategy that has negative and positive consequence which needs to be managed effectively (Fainstein et al, 1999). Indeed, people would want to visit and enjoy the beauty of a place, but would do so on the basis of how secured they would feel and how interesting and fun the place may be. Restrictive movements restrict the potential of exploration which tourists seek. Yet when privacy and security of a city is at stake how then are these issues harmonized? The infrastructure, services providers, transportation, and branding have unique places in tourism development. The framework thus espouses how these important factors are and the rationale for their provision and management.

3.2 Challenges of Tourism Development
Within the context of regulation, the political economy is paramount to the tourism industry. It can be a ‘blessing or a case’ depending on how it shapes the sector. Amin (1994) sees the political economy of the inner city as the “institutional structures that supports and stabilizes a given regime of accumulation (i.e. of capitalist profitability) – both the formal rules imposed by institutions as well as the informal norms and expectations that arise from social and cultural patterns.” For these reason, activities relating to tourism may evolve only when the political economy support the industry. This dilemma is fundamentally the greatest challenge to developing the tourism sector. 

Since economic activities also influence the nature and beauty of urban space, the local and global effects of economic restructuring also poses a challenge to the development of the sector. The development of hotels, sport centers, restaurants, the relocation of business to particular cities not only spurs the development of entertainment and leisure investments but has ramification for employment, revenue generation as well as the spatial impact of economic restructuring (Storper, 1994 and Fainstein et al, 1999). These processes may create employment for low income families on the one had but on the other hand may initiate significant gentrifying negative effects. Such investments are also associated with huge public supported investments and raise again the choices of such investments at the expense of other social investments such as schools and affordable housing. For instance, Levine (2003) espouses that in Montreal's quest to become a world-class tourism city, several consequences have emerged including fiscal debacles (the 1976 Olympic Games and Stadium) or fiscal disappointments (the deficits on a number of 1990s investments). This is but an example of a multiplicity of complex scenarios.

Another challenge of the industry can be seen in the issues of inequality or social and economic polarization that emerges from the investments in the industry. Beautification strategies have implication for gentrification and the evidence from Fordism theory provide enough foundation for this reality (Fainstein et al, 1999). As Harvey (1994) intimates, providing new opportunities for marginalized areas and populations are almost mostly absent in beautification investments and “this may translate into social, economic and/or political clout for formerly disadvantaged groups, or may become a new form of commodification, controlled by old elites.” 

4.0 Summary of Key Findings, Implications and Conclusion
For cities the understanding of these strategies, the factors that are needed to support these strategies, the benefits of investing in these strategies as well as the negative consequences should inform the policy and planning processes. Similar to any development strategy, there are two consequences; positive and negative. However, the critical issue is identifying ways of optimizing benefits while at the same time minimizing or ameliorating the negative tendencies. 

The consequences of tourism development for cities also reveal how important innovation and uniqueness is relevant for urban planning and development. Replication and monotony may place a city at a competitive disadvantage in a globalizing world. However, by developing a niche or uniqueness that exists relative to the city increases its tourism potential. For this reason, the awareness of what has worked for one city may not necessarily work for another city should always inform decisions.  

Similarly, developing strategies that enhances local patronage of tourism ventures in the city by residents is another way of augmenting the potential of the sector for economic development. In this way, the two markets serve as complementary cushions to each other when markets are low. Moreover, tourists are attracted to tourist places based on the attractiveness of the place. One indicator of such is the relative interest of locals in their own uniqueness and environments. The Carnival Festival in Brazil has a huge patronage locally and this provides a huge array of diversity and euphoria for any tourist visiting the country at that time. In this case, one is not left in a state of searching for excitement but is greeted with one by the people and the environment. 

Evidently, all these cannot be possible without the needed infrastructure and services to support the attraction and to sustain the interest. Hotels, restaurants, transportation and communication, safety and security, hygiene, and the regulatory environment that support public-private partnership are fundamental for the development of tourism in cities. Promoting these and appreciating their effectives on social and economic ramifications are seemingly paramount for cities and planners.

Amin, A. (1994). Post-fordism: models, fantasies and phantoms of transition. In A. Amin (ed.), Post-fordism: a reader, Blackwell, Malden, MA.

Beek, E., Buwalda, S., and J. Stoop (2000). The impact of Fordism and Post Fordism on Urban Space.
F. Errington, D. Gewertz (1989): Tourism and Anthropology in a Post-Modern World Oceania, 60 (1989), pp. 37–54

Currid, E. (2007). How art and culture happen in New York: Implications for urban economic development, Journal of the American Planning Association; Autumn 2007, pp. 454-67.

Judd, D. R. (2003): Visitors and the Spatial Ecology of the City, in. Cities and Visitors: Hoffman, Fainstein, and Judd, eds Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Oxford pp. 23-38

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Levine, Marc V. (2003). "Tourism-based redevelopment and the fiscal crisis of the city: the case of Montreal." Canadian Journal of Urban Research. Institute of Urban Studies. HighBeam Research. 30 Oct. 2012 .

Markusen A. (2003). The artistic dividend: The arts’ hidden contributions to regional development. Minneapolis: Project on Regional and Industrial Economics, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota, July 2003.

Markusen, A. and D. King (2003). The Artistic Dividend: The Hidden Contributions of the Arts to the Regional Economy. Minneapolis, MN: Project on Regional and Industrial Economics, University of Minnesota, July.

NGA Center for Best Practices (2009):Arts and the Economy, Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development, Washington.

Squires, G. D. (2003). To grow or not to grow: That is not the question. City & Community, 2 (1), March 2003, pp. 27-31.

Tegtmeyer, L. L. (2011). Cultural representations of the "ghetto" in the context of new urban tourism in the United States. Concepts and methods at the disciplinary crossroads 14-16 September 2011.

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