Why Cities Need to Invest in Urban Tourism

“The world’s urban population is expected to grow by 61% by year 2030. This will have a considerable impact on urban tourism”

According to a report the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/14, the volume of city trips increased by 47% worldwide in the period 2009-2013. The report goes on to state that tours and city holidays by consumers in emerging markets have driven tourism growth in the last four years.The significance of this kind of tourism is felt both at national and regional levels beyond the city limits as most visitors tend to use the city as the hub of their exploration. A significant fraction of the economic spillovers from city tourism are felt in neighboring regions, thereby calling for more attention and investment into this sub-sector.

Given that tourism is basically a commodity/product that involves selling a territory; it is vital for each city to develop a locally-centered, unique and appealing package to face the fierce global competition from other hubs. Size not withstanding the World Travel Organization notes that, expansion of international tourism will create a new market structure that will provide opportunities for sub-national tourism destinations while international competition will simultaneously increase.

The report also touches on visitor behavior and trends, noting that most city travelers are not only hyper-technologically equipped but also enjoy breaking boundaries. This calls for stakeholders to tailor their products in response to this demand; a finding well supported by a report recently released by Jovago pointing out WIFI and online accessibility as one of the priority preference by potential hotel customers.

Estelle Verdier, the Managing Director for Jovago.com cites, “the underlined potential in city tourism lies in the fact that not only are cities becoming the unavoidable hub for any type of economic sector but also play a crucial role in connecting tourism affiliated bodies that feed the major tourism sector” This has inherently led to a new trend in the industry known as “city breaks” Travelers are increasingly spending a night or two in a city en-route other destinations just to experience the multiplicity of a different urban setting. The proliferation of cheaper local flights, affordable and easy-to-access accommodation as well as hi-tech entertainment and interactive cultural experiences offered in cities are major supporters of this nascent trend.

To realize the full potential in city tourism, several entities must key in their efforts; the government must ensure political support at all levels, infrastructure and address market needs through creating conducive environment for investment as well as through destination promotion. On the other hand, private sectors whose contribution is mostly channeled through tourism services, facilities and skills must also play their role effectively for the benefit of the sector. Last and not the least, the community in the territory must be receptive to the idea of the intruders; which goes without saying that the latter must also share in the benefits of the trade.

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