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Experiencing the public sphere through the eyes of urban tourists in Tehran

Zohreh Korani (Department of Tourism, University of Science and Culture, Tehran, Iran)
Zahed Shafiei (Department of Tourism, Isfahan University of Art, Esfahan, Iran)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 6 April 2022

Issue publication date: 9 December 2022




This paper aims to find out how tourists in Tehran experience its public areas and pursue two main purposes. The first is to understand the characteristics of the public sphere in Tehran and the second is to discover a way in which the public sphere can play a role in facilitating urban tourism in Tehran.


The methodology used in this study is qualitative and phenomenological. In-depth interviews with 26 participants were used to collect data. The interviews were then transcribed, and Maxqda software was used to analyze them.


The findings show that the public sphere is a useful tool to discover and explain how to talk and act in different places in Tehran. This sphere is evolving over time, from access to dialogue and finally to action. Although it is not possible to draw a clear line between the different levels of the public sphere, it seems that tourists in Tehran have now entered the literary public sphere. Although they have made efforts, they have not been able to reach the political public sphere and public action. The most important obstacles are the government and the citizens of Tehran.


This paper is unique about the connection between the public sphere and urban tourism. The public sphere is a manifestation of the principles of reciprocity and critical debate in the city and a space for understanding through public debate. The public sphere is also a space for equality, rationality and mutual understanding between individuals and reasoning based on speech exchange. Roles that, if given to tourists, could change tourism policy in Iran.



Korani, Z. and Shafiei, Z. (2022), "Experiencing the public sphere through the eyes of urban tourists in Tehran", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 931-948.



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Copyright © 2022, International Tourism Studies Association.

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