Urban tourism is on the rise and a global survey conducted by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and IPSOS shows a positive picture of local residents’ perceptions towards the trend.
Looking at 15 countries worldwide, the research also identified what residents consider to be the best ways of managing rising numbers of tourists, highlighting differing attitudes to urban tourism among different socio-demographic groups.
The survey aims at a better understanding of residents’ attitudes towards urban tourism. The research is also meant at identifying most valued management strategies to address the emerging challenges that come with increased tourism demand
“In order to make sure that urban tourism continues to benefit local residents, it is fundamental to implement sustainable policies and practices. This includes the regular monitoring of residents’ attitudes towards tourism and factoring them in the tourism agenda,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Tourism’s impacts are valued most positively in Australia, Argentina, Sweden, the Republic of Korea and Spain. Young respondents (under 34) exhibit a stronger awareness of both the positive and negative impacts of city tourism, in contrast to older respondents (over 50) who perceive the negative impacts less. Younger respondents are also more likely to be in favour of more restrictive measures to manage increased tourism demand. Among older respondents, only 5% think that tourism promotion should be stopped, and only 8% favour limiting the number of visitors in their cities as compared to 12% and 16% of younger respondents.
Respondents who frequently travel to international destinations (twice or more in the last year) are less likely to feel that they live in cities with a high number of tourists when compared to respondents who do not travel so regularly. Similarly the perception of a positive impact of tourism is significantly higher among respondents who travelled in the past year.
With regards to potential measures to address growing tourism flows in cities, residents across the 15 countries consider “improving infrastructures and facilities” as the most effective. In Hungary, 89% of respondents stressed this measure as the most adequate, followed by Italy (80%) and Argentina (79%).
In a similar way, “creating experiences and attractions that benefit residents as well as visitors” is the second most preferred management strategy, and extremely popular in all countries (82% in Canada and Hungary; 75% and 74% in Argentina and Republic of Korea, respectively).