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Are national tourism organisations past their sell-by date? A perspective article

Brian Hay (School of Social Sciences, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 21 August 2019

Issue publication date: 20 February 2020




The purpose of this paper is to explore the sustainability of National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) in light of the increasing power of cities.


Based on a review of major societal trends and the author's interpretation of such trends, a tourism futurists’ perspective was applied to better understand the implications of such trends.


The future growth of tourism will be constrained by some of the greatest challenges facing society, including unrelenting population growth, ageing demographics, shortages of natural resources, devolution of power and increasing urbanisation. As a result of such trends, this review suggests there will be resurgence in the power of cities, leading to an increase in tourism between not only global cities but also, more importantly, secondary cities.

Research limitations/implications

The results are limited by selection of the trends and the author's interpretations of such trends.

Practical implications

The review suggests that city-city marketing will be a key driver in future tourism marketing, over country-country marketing.


The paper concludes that NTOs are no longer fit for purpose, as power, trust and relevance have shifted in favour of individual city marketing bureaus, over state controlled NTOs.



Hay, B. (2020), "Are national tourism organisations past their sell-by date? A perspective article", Tourism Review, Vol. 75 No. 1, pp. 170-173.



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