Urban Tourism

Urban Tourism: Towards Sustainable Development Models

Cities in Europe are increasingly becoming more popular tourist destinations with tourism numbers growing each year. Despite the positive impact tourism can have on cities in terms of economic benefits, also concerned voices about the negative aspects of tourism are starting to grow. Such aspects range from overcrowding of the city, loss of authenticity and change in city culture, to noise complaints, congestion and gentrification, the latter often being associated with vacation rentals like Airbnb. In summary it is a city that is not focussed on residential living anymore but is mostly catering to tourists.

This is a recent challenge for many cities as not it is no longer the case that only the capitals of countries are worth the attention of visitors. At this point also second- or even third cities (often post-industrial) are experiencing an increase in their tourism numbers. With the example of tourist cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona or Venice in mind, those cities are on the lookout for more sustainable tourism models. Currently there are little to no suitable governance models that deal with the issues the tourist city brings. Additionally there is only a limited scholarly body on more sustainable urban tourism models. This research project thus explores potential sustainable urban tourism models taking into account recent trends in tourism such as the growth of the sharing economy, creative tourism and new urban tourism and the ‘live-like-a-local experience’. The consequences (both positive and negative) of these trends are assessed as well as their potential related governance models.

This research makes use of two case studies being Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Valencia, Spain. Both cities have been experiencing rapid growth in tourism over the past years and are developing their tourism strategy with sustainability and the threat of becoming a tourist city in mind. Making use of mostly qualitative methods, the aim of this project is to have more insight on the consequences of recent trends in tourism and to explore how cities can better adapt to those trends in terms of governance.

This project is part of the Erasmus Initiative ‘Vital Cities and Citizens’ which has the objective to improve quality of life in cities by involving researchers from different disciplines working closely together to tackle current day issues in cities. By stimulating collaboration with societal partners, Vital Cities and Citizens aims to demonstrate that scientific knowledge and societal relevance can go hand in hand.

Research Team

PhD Candidate

  • (Shirley) S Nieuwland

    (Shirley) S Nieuwland

    Shirley Nieuwland is a PhD candidate within the Erasmus Initiative ‘Vital Cities and Citizens’ in which she focusses on exploring sustainable urban tourism…


  • prof.dr. (Filip) FRR Vermeylen

    prof.dr. (Filip) FRR Vermeylen

    Filip Vermeylen (PhD. Columbia University 2002) is Professor of Global Art Markets. He lectures and publishes on various aspects of the economics of art and…
  • dr. (Mariangela) M Lavanga

    dr. (Mariangela) M Lavanga

    Mariangela works as Associate Professor of Cultural Economics at the Department of Arts and Culture Studies at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and…


  • S. Nieuwland (2018). Regulating Airbnb: How cities deal with negative externalities of short-term rentals. Workshop: Short-term tourism rentals. Observation, Regulation and Labour reconfigurations: Paris (2018, maart 15).
  • S. Nieuwland & M. Lavanga (2018). Urban Tourism: Opportunities For Creative Entrepreneurs and Sustainable Tourism Development. ATLAS Annual Conference 2018 (Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research): Copenhagen (2018, september 26 - 2018, september 29).
  • S. Nieuwland (2018). Urban Culture, Heritage and Tourism. Strategies for responsible urban tourism development in Rotterdam. Empowering Cities and Citizens Conference: Rotterdam (2018, november 6 - 2018, november 6).
  • S. Nieuwland & R. Van Melik (2018). Regulating Airbnb: how cities deal with perceived negative externalities of short-term rentals.Opent extern Current Issues in Tourism. doi: 10.1080/13683500.2018.1504899
  • S. Nieuwland & R. Van Melik (2018). Stedelijke worsteling met Airbnb.Opent extern Geografie (Kon.Ned.Aardrijkskundig Genootschap).

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