In a recent forum organized by Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, Professor Maria Gravari Barbas of IREST, EIREST, Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne University, discussed the emerging concept of “New Urban Tourism.” She highlighted the significant changes in urban tourist landscapes and their impact on tourist behaviour, products, and the overall tourism industry.
New urban tourism is a concept that has emerged as a result of the significant changes observed in the urban tourist landscape over the past few years. Maria Gravari Barbas, a professor at IREST, EIREST, Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne University, recently delivered a presentation on this topic during a forum organized by Harokopio University in Athens, Greece.
In her presentation, Barbas highlighted that tourism has always been an urban activity, with cities, along with sea and mountain resorts, being the main laboratories for the invention of modern tourism culture. What distinguishes new urban tourism is the shift from sightseeing to life scene and the blurring of boundaries between tourist and non-tourist destinations and practices.
The new urban tourist is more experienced, educated, and mature, having accumulated significant tourism capital through numerous travels. They are increasingly in search of authentic experiences and personalized, tailor-made proposals. The tourism industry has demonstrated an unprecedented responsiveness to this shift in demand, rapidly transforming tourists’ expectations into commercialized tourist products.
New urban tourism does not represent a complete shift from iconic touristic sites to local authentic experiences. Instead, it is a niche tourism that coexists with mass tourism. While the new urban tourist may visit well-known sites like the Louvre, they are also drawn to off-the-beaten-track experiences and lesser-known neighbourhoods.
This new form of tourism does not come without its consequences. As tourists flock to previously non-touristic areas, the pressure on these neighbourhoods increases. In some cases, new urban tourism can be more disruptive than mass tourism, exacerbating issues such as gentrification and the erosion of housing units from the traditional housing market.
One of the main drivers of new urban tourism is the development of tourist-relevant platforms, which have transformed hospitality into a product and millions of apartment owners into tourism providers. This platform-led tourism extends beyond just accommodation, encompassing sharing or renting mobility solutions, experiential tours, and food and logistics services for tourists. However, the rise of these platforms also carries risks and challenges, reinforcing urban issues such as gentrification and housing market erosion.
In conclusion, Barbas emphasized the need for a more critical perspective on how new urban tourism transforms cities. As this emerging phenomenon continues to reshape the urban tourist landscape, it presents a stimulating research agenda that warrants further exploration and discussion.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.