Session at the European Association for Urban History Conference
More than one continentShort abstract: Urban tourism promotion has often been seen as a contemporary invention; an idea which is fuelled by the surprising scarcity of in-depth historical research on the topic. This session, however, aims to develop a comparative and transnational agenda towards a better understanding of the long-term history of urban tourism promotion.
Over the last few decades, political, cultural, economic, and other stakeholders have tried to (re)brand cities in Europe and beyond to become tourist destinations. They did so by creating new urban icons (Guggenheim in Bilbao!), new slogans and narratives (I love NY!), and new marketing techniques (viz. social media). These urban marketing phenomena are often seen as a contemporary invention; an idea which is fuelled by the surprising scarcity of in-depth historical research on the topic. This session, however, aims to develop a comparative and transnational agenda towards a better understanding of the long-term history of urban tourism promotion.
We invite panellists to explore four main issues. First of all, we want to achieve a better understanding of the main actors involved in urban tourist promotion, and, especially, study their motives and interactions. Which stakeholders took the lead in urban tourism promotion and why? How did they negotiate conflicting goals, interests and visions of the city as tourist destination? Was tourist attraction always the main driver behind urban promotion, or part of a wider and more diverse set of motives, strategies and activities to ‘boost’ cities? Which media – from newspaper adds, brochures and posters to other ‘new’ media – did actors use to put their city in the spotlight? In what way were different media mobilised to address socially different tourists? Which main attractions and urban experiences did actors stress in tourist promotion? How did they, for instance, strike a balance between selling urban heritage and modernity? Were certain types of urban tourists (nationalities, classes,...) more welcome as others? Last but not least, how did local stakeholders develop their urban brands and marketing strategies by a local, national and international transfer of expertise? Which cities in Europe and beyond took the lead in urban tourism promotion? And how was knowledge on urban tourism promotion internationally disseminated and imitated from place to place?
To address these questions, we accept proposals written from different urban disciplinary perspectives. We particularly welcome proposals which offer a wider comparative and/or long-term historical perspective. European as well as non-European case studies will be taken into consideration.
- Spokesperson: Gerrit Verhoeven, University of Antwerp
- Co-organizer(s): Jan Hein Furnée, Radboud University Nijmegen | Ilja Van Damme, University of Antwerp
- Keywords: Urban tourism | Promotion | Branding
- Time period: Modern period
- Topic(s): Cultural | Economic