Sustainable City Based Tourism


The future of city based tourism is anchored on SDG 11, Sustainable cities and communities. This challenges policy makers to come up with better frameworks that support sustainable city based tourism planning and management.
Cities are unique. They must have authentic identities. Uniqueness is determined by residents and their lifestyles. Travelers are attracted to cities for their uniqueness. Designing cities for tourists and not for the residents is therefore a wrong strategy both for competitiveness and livability. City based tourism is the number one type of holiday. This the the highlights from the 24th Inter-University Seminar on sustainable tourism that was held at USIU-Africa. The discussion was on Sustainable City Tourism~Transforming African Cities from Stopovers to Experiential Destinations

Emerging Issues

The best kind of experience that addresses the needs of visitors, residents and the environment they live in is borne out of planned management. City based tourism is no different, it needs inclusive planning and good management. Sustainable city tourism requires true respect for our cities, its own culture and attractions that make cities be destinations. With true respect comes identity, responsibility and pride of our cities.

1. Evaluation of city tourism competitiveness: current measurement of tourism is for ranking and not for measuring impacts on sustainable development. The top ranked competitive and reputable cities are also the same ones where residents hold anti tourism protests. When determining rankings, evaluations are based on aspects other than impacts for sustainable development.
2. Driving forces in city tourism markets: City tourism is driven by values, identities and culture. When city tourism is well planned, it minimizes negative pressure to social and environmental aspects of sustainability. Value addition and rare experiences are key for sustainable city tourism. This includes shock in value. Infrastructure and transport development influence growth of city tourism. There is a big market for city tourism, cities need to protect their green spaces. Travelers are continuously being attracted to cities.

3. Growth of city tourism: Cities have psychological limits. Overtourism takes place when a city exceeds its psychological limits to growth. Overtourism has led to gentrification of cultures robbing many cities of authentic identities. It is high time we start thinking of smart cities. Smart cities are built around daily users, not for travelers or conference goers. We need to focus on improving quality of life for locals, the quality of environment, as well as quality of visitor experience.

4. Risks of unplanned city tourism: lack of planning, especially inclusive planning when designing cities for people to live in, and positioning cities as travel destinations causes problems. Anti-tourism protests in Barcelona and Venice are examples of reaction to these problems by residents. Risks of unplanned city tourism include Touristification, gentrification, and disneyfication.

Way forward

  • We can create cities that improve quality of life of residents and cities that are competitive through holistic and inclusive planning, that provides space for innovation. One planning gap when it comes to designing city based tourism experiences, is the misconception of cities as hard touristic environments, and local communities as only those living in rural areas. Cities to have host communities.
  • City tourism should have inclusive plans, especially on physical planning and the local community. A well planned city balances all aspects of sustainable development, and uses this to attract travelers who will support its continuity.
  • Sustainable cities require physical and psychological planning. A well planned city understands its ecosystem and designs to enhance linkages.

Cities should be planned and managed to feel like home. If the home is attractive to the resident, then it is attractive to the tourist.

Presentations by;

Let’s Go Travel Uniglobe
Students and Faculty representatives from USIU-Africa

Universities in Attendance

Amboseli Institute
Dedan Kimathi University
University of Nairobi
Kenya Utalii College
Kenyatta University
Technical University of Kenya
Total number of Students in attendance: 161

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