From the background of the dramatic increase of urban tourism, framed by the concept of overtourism, the purpose of this paper is to analyze and discuss current dynamic processes of urban tourism growth, as presented in the scientific literature. With the help of a literature review, this paper aims to discuss current definitions and conceptualizations of overtourism and discuss the driving forces for the growth of urban tourism, thereby situating overtourism in relational to general structural change.
This paper builds on a non-exhaustive review of the scientific literature about overtourism and related topics, supplemented by a review of a few central policy documents.
Conceptually, overtourism relates to two different, but related, perspectives. The first one concern (negative) experiences of resident population and visitors, whereas the second relates to thresholds for the carrying capacity of destinations. Most of the reviewed literature focuses on three aspects of overtourism: localized problems in inner cities, the supply of unregulated accommodation through Airbnb and Airbnbs as a driving force of gentrification. Important perspectives are missing from the literature, mainly related to the development of driving forces of urban tourism growth in time and space. This observation is the starting point for a discussion on driving forces in an evolutionary perspective with the ambition of relating the growth of urban tourism to long waves of structural development.
The paper focuses on overtourism in urban contexts, rural tourism is not discussed.
In identifying the importance of driving forces for understanding the dynamics of urban tourism growth, a holistic view on managing mitigation might be possible.
The paper adds an evolutionary perspective to the discussion about overtourism and its causes. Thereby, it answers to a need to take tourism seriously in social science, as a major economic, social and ecologic force. In emphasizing the relationship between driving forces on different geographic scales and levels, power relations are highlighted. The paper discusses the role of driving forces for mitigating overtourism. An understanding of the dynamics of driving forces is essential for the development of urban sustainable tourism.
Funding: The research behind this publication was funded by Formas, the Swedish research council for sustainable development, project 2018-02238.
Nilsson, J.H. (2020), "Conceptualizing and contextualizing overtourism: the dynamics of accelerating urban tourism", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 657-671. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-08-2019-0117Download as .RIS
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