Cities are attracting more and more of the world’s population; not just those who want to live but also those who want to visit temporarily. That’s why urban planners will increasingly have to keep their eye on tourism trends, as well as the bigger issues of finding resources and building infrastructure for long-term residents.

Tourism and local people's’ reaction to it has hit the headlines on a near-daily basis over the past few months, and it is against that backdrop that I was recently invited to be interviewed by Citiscope, a prestigious observatory of city planning and sustainable urban development. Citiscope had heard about TOPOSOPHY’s collaboration with European Cities Marketing, notably on the Manifest on the Future of DMOs, which was published in June this year.

One of the key themes I wanted to share is that when it comes to urban planning, those responsible for tourism planning and development need to be present at the top table of city management. This interview proved to be a great way to bring the urban planning community up to date with the burning issues in tourism right now, including overtourism, tourist behaviour and of course the urgent need to integrate the sharing economy into the city’s overall economy. 

We know that many in the ECM community and beyond share this belief and have made progress in gaining relevance and securing their future by sharing the Manifest with colleagues and evening sharing it with the mayor’s office and other leading political figures in the city. As Citiscope’s readership includes public officials, administrators and decision makers of cities worldwide, we hope to give them a greater understanding of how and why they should plan with tourists in mind.

As headlines from the Mediterranean this summer have shown, tourist numbers are soaring but patience among local people is hitting rock-bottom, occasionally flaring up with violent protests, a very worrying development. However, we need to look ahead. As I commented in the interview, “if we look at the inbound visitor forecasts for Europe from markets like Brazil, China and India, we are only at the tip of the iceberg at the moment. There is a lot more to come. If cities are already overflowing, then they’ve got a big problem on their hands.” Nevertheless, it’s clear that there are no quick-fix solutions: “These are all very complex problems, because in order to tackle them you've got to get the agreement of local people who are already often quite frustrated”.

As we outlined in the Manifest itself, the quality of life for residents, for visitors, indeed for everyone should be the starting point for everything city planners do. Therefore, every wave of destination planning, management and marketing should always include consultation with the public and other stakeholders. DDMMOs can play a fundamental role in creating job opportunities for citizens through promoting innovation, placing the focus on localism and supporting events which include the whole community. A good place to start is by carrying capacity and impact assessment study in order to determine the acceptable limits of change caused by tourism activity.

For more information, we invite you to read the full interview and download the ECM Manifest on the Future of DMOs.

Finally, if you’re from a city struggling to balance these major issues and would like us to boost your team’s work with renewed purpose and direction, then we’d be very happy to help you. Just drop us a line at





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