Tourism and Urban Planning, Challenges and Issues 

October 31, 2019

The city and the tourist movement have both historical and dynamic relationships. If we observe a movement of attraction-withdrawal-rediscovery of the city (Cazes, 2005), we see that the latter plays a structuring role in the process of inventing the tourist phenomenon, being “both a place of impulse of travel taste, but also the point of departure, place of passage, place of arrival or stay” (Knafou, 2007: 9-21). 

In Europe, the invention of tourism (practices, equipment, and organization) takes its significance from the transformation of societies and economies (industrial and technical revolutions, political, financial) during the 15th-20th centuries. Thus, the Renaissance and the Classical Age show double anticipation in the tourist invention. For instance, the cities of Italy are expected to show their economic power, and their elites are looking for new leisure activities, including the reappearance of the holiday resort and residences around the city, already showing a desire to temporarily leave the latter (Towner, 1996: 18-19). 

From the 16th and 17th centuries, guides fix what must be seen: for example, the attractions of Italian cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, as well as, Montpelier and Poitiers, France, which are known for their institutions of knowledge. The period of the 18th to 19th centuries is one of the great tourist inventions. Some of these include the Great English Tour (early eighteenth), with the visit of the attractions of European cities by the young English aristocrats and the taming of the territories bordering the city (the sea, the countryside, the forest, and the mountains). These see the emergence of the city of water (ex: Bath) and the seaside resort (ex: Brighton) in England. 

In the 19th century, the industrial and often smoky city can be left by urban elites who invest in “cities of escape” (water towns or coastal cities) (Pinol, 1991). Pinol (1991) also suggests, “The city worries, we leave it, but it shows a double image: it stimulates a disturbing perception by development and excess, the appearance of social problems, but it also fascinates as a reflection of a more modern world. Thus, the city of the late 19th century prepares the attractiveness of the city of the late 20th century. Already, the city of the late 19th century is transformed and often introduces monumental urbanism, thus, expressing its power.  London innovates with the World Exhibition in 1851 and develops the urban visit, which is a prelude to the short urban stays of the 20th century. Paris is the mass leisure laboratory, already welcoming nearly 15 million visitors (Team MIT, 2005: 57-86). In Canada, Montréal is seeking to innovate to attract more tourists, especially during the winter season (eg., for Winter Carnival). It is already presenting itself as “a city of the avant-garde, a kind of urban factory” events and attractions” (Pilette and Kadri, 2005: 76). 

Still, in the 19th century, the strong urbanization associated with industrialization gave a disturbing perception of deserted cities in favor of nature (sea, countryside, and mountains). In the 20th century, the development of resorts by the sea continued and attracted the most fortunate. In France, Cannes and Juan Les Pins are vaunted by Americans and the urban rich of the period from 1910-1930 (Boyer, 1995: 45 -47). Access to leisure is still reserved for the elite, and its social distribution will continue until the 1950s. But, the city is still a place for the elite. Tourists looking for the sea and the sun, and also another way to spend holidays (eg., The Club Med). 

The postmodern city is no longer just a place of concentration of people, activities (economic, industrial, and cultural) and powers. It is also playing an increasingly important role as a place for tourism and recreation. Since the 1980s, the big city has become an attractive, major tourist destination (Law, 1996). 

Urban tourism has become increasingly popular in recent years as metropolises, and capital cities have the potential for significant growth in growing international flows. Tourism is implicitly at the heart of many city projects, and this is not new. The cities have always wanted to “seduce” foreigners, regardless of whether they are merchants, pilgrims, or tourists. 

Cities are the engines of economic growth. They swarm with ideas, businesses, scientific projects, and exciting innovations. Well-planned and organized through integrated planning and management methods, they can support the long-term economic, social, and environmental development of societies. 

As a result, many people now live in cities. Currently, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. In fact, a 2018 study of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) states: “With 54% of the world’s population living in urban areas, cities have become world economic poles and are, therefore, engines of growth, growth, and growth, innovation and job creation. Cities will continue to attract more people who come to live, do business, and discover them. By 2050, 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities. Cities currently account for 45% of international travel. With more than half a billion annual trips to urban areas, cities increase the impact of travel and tourism within urban boundaries significantly, while serving as bridges for travel to another city and country destinations. 

Urbanization is undoubtedly one of the most transformative and complex trends in the world. It is now crucial to ensure that urbanization results in sustained and inclusive economic growth, social and cultural development, and environmental protection. By ensuring that cities are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed, and managed properly, it is possible to use urbanization to achieve sustainable development. 

Thus, tourism is a driving force in the development and stimulator of a new urbanity in cities and metropolises today, promoting the emergence of a complex reality that upsets the dimension of urban tourism. 



  • Philippe DUHAMEL and Rémy KNAFOU, Urban Worlds of
  • Tourism, coll. “Mappemonde,” Belin, 2007. 
  • Cazes, Georges (2005), “Urban tourism,” in Pierre Merlin and Françoise Choay (dir.), Dictionary of town planning and development, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, p. 891-892. 
  • World Tourism Organization and Brussels, European Tourism Commission. 
  • Lussault, Michel, and Mathis Stock (2007), “Tourism and urbanity,” in Philippe Duhamel and Rémi Knafou (dir.), The urban worlds of tourism, Paris, Belin, p. 241- 245. 
  • Duhamel, Philippe, and Remi Knafou (eds.) (2007), The Urban Worlds of Tourism, Paris, Éditions Belin. 

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Author: Obed Blacker DORVILUS

Last modified: October 31, 2019

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