The general aim of this paper is to summarise the findings of the first phase of an ongoing major research project conducted to explore, test and advance the use of business improvement district (BID) legislation in enhancing the urban vitality and viability of towns and cities in the context of tourism enterprise. More specifically its objectives are to: describe the nature, origins, purpose, benefits, participants and emergent issues; examine the formation and organisation of these agencies with particular regard to their authorisation, the provision of services and improvements and their governance and management; and assess how such common factors as place management, customer satisfaction, hospitality management and competitiveness are addressed using this mechanism. The paper concludes by examining three UK case studies from the pilot programme for BIDs for common traits, as well as indicating several significant trends reinforcing the relevance of the BID concept to the promotion of the local urban tourism industry.
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