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Urban destination marketing in contemporary Europe – what does “good” look like?

John Heeley (Best Destination Marketing, Sheffield, UK and Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine urban destination marketing from a mainly practitioner standpoint, though one of its principal observations is the gap between theory and practice; while the former is premised on related notions of difference and competitive advantage, in practice the greater part of urban destination marketing eschews competitive advantage, resulting in a pervasive marketing of “sameness”.


The paper is in three parts. The first set out the urban tourism context in respect of historical, market, supply, impact and definitional/measurement dimensions. Part two profiles the bespoke delivery mechanisms established for urban destination marketing, examining nomenclature, core purpose/mission, status, size and finances, as well as overhead and operating parameters.


The final section comprises a state-of-the-art review, setting out a five variable model of purposeful urban destination marketing, concluding that “good” in urban destination marketing is atypical and currently in Europe is confined to only a handful of European cities.


This paper is intended to give the reader a better understanding of why, in such an important field of human endeavour, success is so problematic. It hopefully gives pointers to practitioners and academics as to how best in future there can be more winners and fewer losers, so that increasing numbers of towns and cities maximise the impact locally of the world's largest industry and at the same time become “known”.



© International Tourism Studies Association


Heeley, J. (2015), "Urban destination marketing in contemporary Europe – what does “good” look like?", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 36-49.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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