Envisioning the futures of cultural tourism

Envisioning the futures of cultural tourism


Completed scientific paper

Original title

Envisioning the futures of cultural tourism


Xavier Matteucci, Ko Koens, Licia Calvi, Simone Moretti 

The Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam is part of the research line New Urban Tourism. At the head of this research line is lector Ko Koens. On a regular basis, scientific publications will appear on this website of Ko Koens and colleague researchers who contribute to the research line New Urban Tourism.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the future of tourism is a much-debated topic both in academic and non-academic circles with commentators expounding contrasting perspectives. This conceptual paper contributes to such debates and aims at envisioning plausible futures of cultural tourism, in particular. For that purpose, we first discuss cultural tourism trends and the future scenarios available in the literature. Then, we articulate three cultural tourism visions of the decades to come: a utopian, a dystopian and a heterotopian vision. Finally, we conclude that the heterotopian vision provides the most nuanced interpretation of the future of cultural tourism and we discuss the potential ramifications of such a vision.

New Urban Tourism

Within New Urban Tourism, part of the Creative Business research group, we focus on tourism as an integral part of the urban environment. Tourists literally walk among locals and use the same facilities. In other words, they cannot be considered a separate entity. But how do these large groups of visitors affect cities and neighbourhoods? And can we find a way for tourism to benefit the city? For instance, can we design activities in such a way that they engender new local business, make places more liveable and make locals prouder of their neighbourhoods? What can we learn about this from studies carried out in other cities abroad? We take a holistic approach to tourism, combining an international frame of mind with a local approach. In our lab environments, in association with stakeholders, we design interventions designed to help us gain a better understanding of underlying processes in major cities and their surroundings and ultimately to improve these regions.