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The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

TOURISM AND THE COMMODIFICATION OF URBAN CULTURE


By Susan S. Fainstein

Cover picture: At the Peak of the London Eye, London. Photo courtesy by J.E.Skodak on flickr.com

Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

TOURISM AND THE COMMODIFICATION OF URBAN CULTURE*


By Susan S. Fainstein*
Tourism is the new favorite strategy for central city planners and is a central component of the economic, social and cultural shift that has left its imprint on the world system of cities in the past two decades. As a result, urban culture itself has become a commodity, and cities have a competitive advantage over suburbs. The most important group of travelers economically are those traveling on business, since these travelers spend the most. Globalization has greatly increased business travel, despite telecommunications, because decentralized production and outsourcing makes travel a necessity.

**Transcript of the lecture Tourism and Globalization presented at the University of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in June 2004. ** Widely regarded as a leading figure in the field of urban planning, Fainsteins teaching and research have focused on the politics and economics of urban redevelopment, tourism, comparative urban and social policy, planning theory, and most recently issues of gender and planning. Among her books are Urban Political Movements (Prentice-Hall, 1974), Restructuring the City (Longman, 1986), and The City Builders: Property, Politics, and Planning in London and New York (University Press of Kansas, 2001). Books she has co-edited (and to which she has contributed chapters) include Divided Cities: New York and London in the Contemporary World (Blackwell, 1992), The Tourist City (Yale University Press, 1999), Readings in Urban Theory (Blackwell, 2001), Readings in Planning Theory (Blackwell, 2003), Cities and Visitors (Blackwell, 2004), and Gender and Planning (Rutgers University Press, 2005). Susan Fainstein currently serves on the editorial boards of nine book series and journals. In 2004 she received the Distinguished Educator Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, in recognition of excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service. Susan Fainstein is currently Professor of Urban Planning at the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University. She was previously Professor of Urban Planning and Acting Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Planning at Columbia University and was a long-time faculty member in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development at Rutgers University.

Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

My principal concern is the way in which cities are shaped by efforts to attract and control visitors and by the economic, spatial, and cultural impact of non-residents. Questions: 1. Do the institutions, rules and regulations of a globalized tourism industry

increasingly reduce difference and variation in urban tourism? 2. Alternatively, does urban tourism vary significantly from place to place because it

reflects local political realities and local cultures? Three basic types of tourist cities can be identified: Resort Cities are places created expressly or mainly used for consumption by

visitors (e.g. Cancun, Las Vegas). Category can be stretched to include cities that originally had other purpose (.e.g. Santa Fe, Venice) Converted cities have built an infrastructure for the purpose of attracting

visitors, but the tourist space brought into being by this infrastructure is insulated from the larger urban milieu within a process of uneven development. Tourist-historic cities. They may or may not incorporate conscious city

marketing.

Global cities have particular advantages in the competition for tourists. For not only are they the premier sites for financial and business services, but they also host environments for the entertainment industry, which plays a crucial role in attracting visitors. Tourism impacts are socio-cultural, spatial, and economic. Tourism partakes of the complexity of late modernity (radical modernity). It is simultaneously a provider of shared and of distinctive experience. The standardization of the tourism experience provides common

Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

symbols and shared memories within otherwise fragmented cultures. At the same time much of tourism is segmented by class and culture. Urban regimes are pulled between the contradictory needs to be welcoming to travelers and wary that outsiders may intend harm. They must protect visitors from the city and protect the city from visitors. These two regulatory functions pull in different directions. Depending on the particular local regime and historical context, there is a wide spectrum of possible outcomes from tourism; our aim should be to find out when its economic effects can be most beneficial and its homogenizing and marginalizing tendencies can be kept in check. I am particularly interested in the effect of globalization on travel, on the behaviour of tourists, and thus on the development of space and the way in which that development of space has affected the societies and economies of cities. So my focus is particularly on central cities rather than on coastal resorts, for instance. The effect of globalization has been in fact to greatly increase travel, which in certain respects seems not surprising but in other ways is quite surprising. I will explain why in a minute. One of the things important to remember is that much travel is not for personal fulfilment, it is not for recreation, it is not for leisure. The tendency is to equate the term tourism with going to some place to have fun. But, in fact, if you are at a conference, you have a more serious purpose, on the one hand; but on the other, maybe you will see an old friend or go to a museum, maybe you will conduct some business. There are many reasons why people travel. From the point of view of the tourism industry, it really does not matter why people come, and in fact, the kind of traveller that most cities are interested in attracting is the business travel. So I use the same definition of the tourist as the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations. According to this definition the tourist is any person who travels more than 50 miles and stays overnight. This includes people going for any number of different reasons. The
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

tourism industry in Americathe hotel industry--uses the term heads on beds, which is all they care about. They do not care why you put your head on your pillow, all they want to know is that is their pillow. For those cities of the industrialized world, particularly those which have lost manufacturing, tourism has become the newest mantra. It is the favourite strategy for local governments trying to develop their economies. This is because in many respects the tourist economy resembles the manufacturing economy, in being able to employ people who do not have very high skill levels. The problem of the tourist economy is that it does not pay most people in it very well. Tourism is part of the new economy, the postfordist economy. Even though tourism itself may be mass tourism, it is still part of the new postfordist world, where the urban setting is much less dependent on its traditional industries than was the case in the past. It is also a central component of the economic, social and cultural shift that has left its imprint on the global system of cities in the past two decades. So we have had this move toward the increasing importance of culture as a commodity as people are becoming more educated, as travel is becoming easier, as people are seeking places that are different. Thus, even in mass tourism, even when everybody is coming on a charter flight, they still may be in search of some cultural difference. The urban culture has become in itself a commodity, a commodity which has in fact a kind of mythological aspect. Walter Benjamins picture of the arcades, of sitting in the cafe, of strolling, of the flneur, these are all cultural images which are familiar to the educated, and even not so educated, population of the world. So cities have this commodity of culture and they are trying to sell it. Cities have an advantage over the suburb. Suburbanization is less of a problem in Europe than in the United States or at any rate European suburbanization tends to be less of the upper class than is the
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

case in America. But in American cities, where by and large the middle class and upper middle class has moved to the suburbs, visitors, unless they are going to see relatives and friends, do not go to the suburbs. They go to cities, because cities are where culture is, cities are where action is. In addition to travel having increased as a consequence of the image of cities and the way in which cities are commodified and sold, travel has increased enormously as a consequence of the re-structuring of the world economy. We have had an increasing decentralization of production. A single firm may have its call-center in Delhi, its accounting office in Glasgow, its research lab in Reading. Each part of this firm may be in some other place. A firm like IBM may have its research centers and sales offices all over the world. At the same time firms are becoming more highly centralized in control. So we have increasing centralization of control and decentralization of production. What does this mean in terms of travel? What it means is that people in these firms are constantly travelling between one and another branch of the firm, one and another subsidiary or subcontractor. Teleconferencing does not do the trick. If you are installing a computer system, engineers have to actually go out and do it. If you are monitoring subcontract in Shanghai, somebody has to go out and make sure that the quality control is all right. A familiar sight in hotel restaurants is single people, sitting at different tables, each with his book or Blackberry or whatever. All are there for some reason of business. This is the most lucrative part of the travel market; it is the part that most cities try to increase because this is part where the head on the bed in fact produces the most revenue. These are people on expense accounts. So globalization has, on the one hand, increased networking, and on the other it has increased travel, because even with e-mail, even with faxes, long distance telephone, and teleconferencing, travel is a necessity to maintain control.
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

As I said earlier, my principal concern is the way cities are shaped by the effort to attract visitors but also by the need to control visitors and the effect that this has on the economic, spatial, and cultural impact of non-residents on residential life.

I have two overriding questions: one is whether the institutions, the rules, and the regulation of globalised tourism industry increasingly reduce difference and variation among cities. This is the often-noticed MacDonaldization or the Disneyfication of cities. Every place has a MacDonalds, a Benetton, a Sheraton hotel. Does that mean that all cities are becoming like all other cities? Can we wake up and know where we are? We all have had this sensation of waking up and not knowing where we are. But there is an alternative argument that comes along with the postfordist one--the argument concerning the creation of niche markets. And that is that urban tourism is causing each place to become more differentiatedthat places differ significantly because they reflect local politics and culture and in particular they reflect efforts to market diversity, to defend a niche that makes a particular place unique. Cities play on their unique structures and communitiesit can be a building like the Calatrava-designed Convention Center in Tenerife or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, or a local ethnic community that means that one doesnt have to go all the way to India, for example, to experience Bengalyou can go just to Brick Lane in London. In the book The Tourist City, which I edited along with Dennis Judd, we identified three different types of tourist cities. First are resort cities. These are places like Cancun, Las Vegas, or Las Palmas that have been expressly created for consumption by visitors. They may not be stable; Las Vegas, for example, which is the fastest growing city in the Unites States, is becoming less of a tourist city than had formerly been the case.
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

Two other types are of particular interest if our concern is the urban fabric. One of these is converted cities. Converted cities have built an infrastructure for the purpose of attracting visitors. We are all familiar with this infrastructure - Dennis Judd has called it the tourist bubble. This consists of the convention centres, sport stadiums, large hotels, festive shopping malls, etc. that are intended simply for visitors, which are not much frequented by people who live there, and which are largely insulated from the surrounding urban milieu. This is the way in which cities are deliberately creating uneven development. There is a city for the resident, there is a city for the visitor. The third type of city is the tourist-historic cityit does not need to build tourist attractions because it already has unique sites of interest. We cannot produce Venice in Detroit -Venice is Venice; Rome is Rome. These are places that have genuine historical monuments. They feature sites and uses that are built into the fabric of the city which have long existed. This means that you get less uneven development because, in fact, you have a mix of residents and tourists. Since the historic sites were not necessarily put all in one place, visitors move around the city. These tend to be compact cities, and the consequence is that you get a mixture of visitors. This greater authenticity, however, raises some important questions, since historic sites do not necessarily speak for themselves. Most tourist-historic cities have engaged in very conscious marketing, in order to attract visitors and have changed the nature of their attractions. For example, the medieval section of Barcelona was obviously not purpose-built for tourism but it is now quite different from its original character. For one thing, we do not have sewers running down the middle of the streets, but beyond that, we do not have the uses for which these places were originally intended. Many of these charming, gentrified buildings were once slums. We do not preserve slums for the benefit of providing local colour. People do not go into churches anymore to worship; they go
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

into churches in order to look at the statuary and the frescos. So the meaning of religious structures, of government buildings, and of castles has changed once we no longer encounter them in the course of worship, of business transactions, or of political interaction. Instead they have become fixed as the object of what John Urry (2002) terms the tourist gaze. They become frozen; they become postcard images of themselves. We are familiar with these places precisely because we have seen the postcards, we have read the guidebooks, therefore we go with a certain expectation of what we are going to find. In a book called Venice Observed, Mary McCarthy, the American novelist and critic, said the fake Venice is the real Venice because there is no other Venice. Venice is nothing but essentially an image, a simulacrum of itself, a picture of whatever it is that people thought it was, and since everybody there is engaged in catering to tourists, there is no way that you could restore it to some other kind of form. The appeal of tourist-historic cities then is not a straightforward consequence of their mere existence as resurrected historic sites. Rather promoters manipulate and improve on what these places actually have to offer. Another of Urrys observations, which is quite perceptive, comments on the effect of imitation on the original. He notes that as the number of reconstructed Mediterranean villages and Mexican saloons proliferates in cities everywhere, shops in real Mediterranean villages and saloons in Mexico must provide less authentic versions of themselves in order to compete with the stylised versions that exist elsewhere. If you are trying to attract visitors on the basis of culture, you have to make that culture evident to the observer. Let us consider the left bank of Paris. Now the left bank of Paris has an image with which we are all familiarof la vie bohme, of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir sitting in a cafe filled with artists and intellectuals. But the left bank of Paris now is filled with Gucci and Prada and Dior and the like. It has become the most expensive shopping district of the city. So
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

its nature is wholly transformed. Poor artists do not go to the left bank to find a place to live; they go to the outskirts of Paris. Similarly in New York, first Greenwich Village, then SoHo, then the east part of Greenwich Village, which used to be called the Lower East Side and then became the East Village, and now the part of the West Side which was the meat market - these places are all transformed as a result of portraying a certain image of bohemian activity, of creativity, which then attracted the lawyers, the stockbrokers, and the tourists. So now the more authentically artistic parts of the city have moved to Brooklyn, which is much cheaper. There is this constant flux, even in the tourist-historic city, and even in the historic parts of these cities, in terms of their users. Another example is Lowell, Massachusetts, where the still-standing great textile mills were the original location of manufacturing in the United States. The mills are now a national park. But the problem of turning something into a national park or into a museum is that it ceases to be a real place. These were actual textile mills, but nobody makes textiles in these kinds of mills anymore. So they are interesting from a historic perspective, but they are not really very interesting from the point of view of the life of a city. One hundred and fifty years ago these mills were teeming with workers but now there is nobody there but tourists. Urban regimes are caught then, because on the one hand, they want to attract visitors, and on the other hand, they want to protect the city from the effects of visitors. So they are pulled between contradictory needs. They want to be welcoming to travellers, but, particularly after 11 September 2001, they have to be wary, since visitors may in fact cause them harm. Thus, for example, if you go to London you will find CCTV cameras at every corner. Formerly these cameras were primarily directed at residents, who might harm visitors, but increasingly

Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

there is the possibility that visitors might have hostile motives; thus, the security apparatus has swung around to examining the visitors as well. In Europe illegal immigration has a somewhat similar effect. On the one hand, you want people to come with money; on the other hand, you want to be careful that the people walking through your airport are entitled to be there. Many of you have had the experience, when approaching the passport lines and making a choice about which line you will stand in, of sizing up the people in front of you to decide which ones of them are going to take a very long time because the immigration officer is going to subject them to a lengthy examination. Of course, anybody who looks like they are from the Middle East, anybody who is dark skinned - these are people who can spend five, ten, fifteen minutes talking to the passport agent, while if you are white and have an EU or US passport, they just barely look at you and stamp it. The Italian sociologist Guido Martinotti, in his work on cities, uses the term city users. City users are people who might not live in the city, but they consume there or work there or travel there. Foreign visitors do not have the same civil and political rights as residents. So when you come to a place you are in many ways a hostage or vulnerable to the surveillance mechanisms of those places. I focus on my research on global cities, in part because I live in one, New York City, but also because global cities have particular advantages in the competition for tourists in this postfordist period. These cities are the sites of financial and business services, of the big banks, the big investment firms, of the companies which sell to other businesses - firms like corporate architects, advertising agencies, management consultants, etc. What is very important about cities like Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Tokyo is that they are also the locations where entertainment is centered. And the entertainment industry plays a very critical role in attracting visitors.
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

Atlanta is one of Americas most prominent tourist cities. It gets a huge number of conventions. Now its approach, and this one really dates back to the 1960s and 1970s, is one of fortifying the tourist spaces and constructing the tourist bubble par excellence. You need not walk on the streetyou walk on a street bridgethere are all these complexes that are selfcontained and connected to each other; the hotels have lobbies on high floors so that you pass through all the security before you get there. The effect of trying to protect the visitors from natives is to make for a very dead kind of city, to destroy urban life. Thus, Atlanta does not attract the same kinds of people who would go to London, New York, or Paris. Now I want to contrast Atlantas redevelopment with the recent reconstruction of Times Square in New York. This is an example of what I call the converted city. The new Times Square is an example of ultra-high tech. What they have attempted to do there is to make a place that is very attractive to tourists, using mega-signsvery large signsas a kind of indicator of advanced technology. What is also interesting about Times Square is that it brings together financial institutions-- the largest number of occupants in the Times Square area are in fact investment firmsmedia firms, law firms, and entertainment and retail operations. All the buildings have flashing illuminated signs that indicate what they are doing. The city planning commission required that buildings devote 5 percent of their floor space to entertainment-related functions and also that they cover the sides of their buildings with these large signs. If you have not been into Times Square, you may have been to Piccadilly Circus in London, and its a similar kind of thing. The Disney Corporation itself came to Times Square and was a very significant agent in its transformation. The Disney Corporation agreed to take over and renovate an old theatre if two other entertainment firms would also come. The city government managed to attract Madame Tussauds and Viacom; Disney then put its musical comedy The Lion King into the
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

New Amsterdam theatre. This was a historic site; it was a very elaborate old theatre, the roof had fallen in, and it cost many millions of dollar to return it to its former glory. Once Disney was there, the whole image of Times Square changed; what you see is that a single change can, in fact, trigger a whole lot of changes. The image of Times Square as a place where women did not go, where you went to get sex and drugs, was only a stereotype and was only partially true. But now the image has changed, and Times Square is viewed as a place for families. If Disney was there, it must be a place for families. You can see that even standard brands like Hilton hotels, when they moved into Times Square adopted an entertainment motif - thus, the Hilton Times Square on the outside fits into the generally raffish character of the place. Times Square is a kind of theme park, it is a simulacrum, it is imitative of others kind of more raffish downtown scenes, but at the same time the shops that occupy the different storefronts are the same establishment that you will find anywhere else. The synergy, the relationship, the interaction between the production and consumption of entertainment has meant that the district has become more attractive to both tourists and suburbanites. When you go through Times Squares you are assaulted by the size of the crowds, the sensory overload, the flashing lights, the noise of the place. This has evoked great deal of criticism from architectural critics and social critics. Alexander Reichl wrote a book called Reconstructing Times Square. In it he said: "In an effort to create a place marketable to mainstream tourists and corporate tenants, a coalition of public and private elites imposed a Disney model of controlled, themed public space. . . .In so doing, they sacrificed the provocative, raw energy produced by the friction of different social groups. . . "Now you have to recall that in Times Square, before it was redone, the street level was indeed filled with different social groups. There was a great deal of pornography, of massage parlors, of male prostitution.
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

It was not for most people a very attractive place. I am not so sure that the interaction was as desirable as Reichl seems to think. I have another quotation from Marcel Berman, the author of one of the definitive books on modernism, All Thats Solid Melts into Air. He says: "Should we worry [about Disneyfication]? [] Long-standing rage against Disney is part of the deal. This is based partly on an accurate view [] but also on prejudices of our own: prejudices of many intellectuals against mass culture [] of ethnic easterners against middle America, of New York against the world." How to evaluate the influence of Disney is an interesting issue in evaluating the tourist city. Disney has created a model that is imitated in cities everywhere throughout the world where the shopping center, the theme park, the urban street scene all merge into each other they all borrow motifs from each other. Is the disgust with Disneyfication a manifestation of unjustified intellectual snobbery? I use a book in teaching called Variations on a Theme Park, edited by Michael Sorkin, an architectural critic and intellectual gadfly. It is highly critical of Disney. Then I ask my students how they feel about Disney. Virtually everyone of them as a child, even if they come from India or from Thailand or from Brazil, has visited a Disney Park. Many of them are really upset to read the criticism of Disney because they loved it - they have a very nostalgic recollection of being brought there as a child. So one sees that it is a mechanical reproduction, that it isnt culturally authentic in terms of coming out of a cultural tradition, but nevertheless it does appeal to a broad number of social strata. It can be argued that Disney World and Times Square constitute a democratic tourism and provide common reference points in an increasingly fragmented world. At the same time, however, people who go to Disney World or to Times Square will sort themselves out. Tourism has both commonalities that everybody shares - if you are in Venice you go to the Piazza San Marco, if you are in Paris you go to Notre Dame, if you are in India
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

you go to the Taj Mahal. Yet, only wealthy people and business people on expense accounts can afford the luxury hotels and three-star restaurants. Thus, tourism is a strange combination of both bringing people together through common images, but at the same time separating people by social class and cultural preferences.

What then are the impacts of urban tourism? I look at three different kinds of impacts: at socio-cultural impacts, at spatial impacts and at economic impacts. I previously used the term of theme park. This phrase is usually used pejoratively and it has incorporated within it a view that tourist spaces, by disguising the harsher sides of reality, by excluding slums, by excluding gas stations and tire repair shops and metal working shops, etc, reinforce the dualism of a world divided between work and play, between production and consumption, between wealth and poverty. The undeniable purpose of leisure is to escape from lifes unpleasantness. You will be hard put, except perhaps when you are talking to intellectuals and artists, to find people who want to discover the seamier aspects of the place they are visiting. Most visitors are not going to go to a place for anthropological or sociological purposes. If you read the scholarly literature on tourism, there is a certain puritanism about it. People should not be going somewhere to have fun. They should be going to someplace to be serious, either to absorb culture in museums or to see people at work in industries. Since most people do not work in industrial areas anymore, this is becoming more difficult. I remember I was in Paris once for a conference. Since at that time I was working on mega-projects like Battery Park City in New York and the Docklands in London, I said that I wanted to go to La Dfense, and the young sociologist who was showing me around said to me,
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

No, no! You dont want to go there. Thats not the real Paris. I want to take you to one of the banlieues where you can see how the working class live. No, I told him, I want to go to La Dfense, and he finally acquiesced because he had no choice. He obviously though that any place that was created purposely as a modernist office complex of that sort was artificial and not worth visiting. But most people go to places which seem to them attractive or useful. Regardless then of how we evaluate the social consequences of this, we can assume that the main spatial effect of urban tourism is to create areas that look appealing and that do not feature people in manual labour. Famously in the Disney parks, there are underground corridors, where the so-called cast members - that is, the employees - get from place to place so that people only see them as their imaginary selves. They only see them as Mickey Mouse or in hoop skirts rather than as their real selves. At any rate, tourist spaces exclude visible evidence of poverty and give people opportunities for entertainment and for officially sanctioned fun. The question becomes whether one can preserve indigenous culture within global capitalism. But if one does preserve indigenous culture, is one simply creating a museum? After all, we have a world now, which, except in certain parts of the newly industrializing countries, has left manufacturing behind. What is the meaning of preservation? In Britain now you can go down into an old coal mine if you want, but is going into an old coal mine somehow an act of greater authenticity than going on a jungle safari in a Disney Park? If culture is in fact global, can a self-conscious localism ever be really authentic? When we talk about preserving the localas soon as you use the word preserve you are implying that you must do a special thing. It is no longer natural. Once you reflect on something, it is no longer spontaneous; you cant have a reflected-on tradition. Once you reflect on tradition, it is no longer tradition - it is something else.
Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

What about the economic impacts about tourism? The different specializations of the various localities mean that tourism is not simply a zero-sum game, with every city competing against every other. Rather it is an industrial sector with a variety of niches, with, of course, considerable overlap. These differences in the tourism product along with the varying labour market and industrial structures of the different locales mean that we have to do much more empirical investigation if we are going to really understand the tourism economy.

This goes back to a crucial question - what is the impact of the tourism economy on social justice? The tourism literature tends to assume that tourism always has the same effect on workers within the industry. In fact, my research shows considerable variation in labour market practises in the tourism industry. A particularly important aspect of tourism is that it does absorb relatively unskilled workers. In many cities it absorbs immigrant workers who lack language skills. It is a desirable industry because nothing else is going to employ these people. At the same time, however, it often does not pay very well, it often does not offer regular benefits, and it is frequently seasonal. In the case of the United States, many of the immigrants employed are illegal and thus they do not have any rights. So the regulation of the labour market becomes a crucial aspect when you analyse the effect of tourism on the economy. In my recent book, Cities and Visitors, we examine the forms of regulation that surround the tourism industry. We identify four types of tourism regulation. First is regulation of the city to protect the tourist and that involves the use of surveillance cameras, the use of special tourist police to protect visitors. The cover of the book shows police in Oaxaca, Mexico, wearing shirts that say on the back Polica Turstica; these police are there just to make tourists feel safe. But they also are there to make sure that the visitors to the city do not attack people who live in the

Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

city. So, as well as the first type of regulation, of the city for the benefit of visitors, we have, second, the regulation of visitors to protect the city. Then there is labour market regulation. One of the things that we began to understand is that there are many different layers of regulation that affect tourism. They start at the international level in terms of agreements among nations, in terms of visas and passports; they move at the national level to immigration laws and labour laws. In the United States, as well as there being a national minimum wage, different states and cities set their own minimum wage, which can exceed the national one. Whether or not workers have health insurance, whether they have old age pensions--these all affect the tourism industry and involve regulations that can be national and can be local. Then there are also regulations of the industry that structure the relationship between the industry, visitors, and the city. These range from safety regulations, to regulations having to do with the interactions between visitors and the industry. Some of the regulations, including health, safety, and financial requirements, restrict proprietors. Access of local small businesses to markets and advertising, whether they are included in convention and tourism bureaus - these are less formal regulatory aspects which determine the mix of multinational corporations and small firms in a localitys tourism industry. I have recently been investigating how New York Citys tourism bureau advertises its ethnic neighbourhoods. What I found was that they really do not do it too much, because the hotel and convention bureau is paid for primarily by the big hotels, and they are all located in Manhattan. Thus the bureau is not particularly interested in getting visitors out to Brooklyn or Queens to see ethnic neighbourhoods and spend money in small businesses there. The American scholar Michael Porter makes a very strong argument for clustering related businesses. He uses the example of wine making and notes that particular financial institutions which know the wine industry and lend to the wine industry locate near wineSusan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

producing areas. If you look at the data on the winemaking areas of California, some of the industries there would not appear to be associated with wine - certain advertising agencies or public relations firms. But they are there entirely because of their specialization in relation to winemaking. Tourism can be symbiotic with a surprising number of economic sectors. Exploiting these relationships can make tourism less seasonal and more knit into the urban fabric. In terms of cultural industries, many cities have sought to use exhibits or spectacles as attractors. What offers greater stability than travelling exhibits or one-off festivals is to actually have your own production of entertainment media. Now not every place, obviously, can be New York or Los Angeles. But surprisingly a number of places have managed to attract creative artists of various kinds - and they can do that fairly easily by simply offering them very low rents, very cheap space in which to work. These artists then tend to create a more engaging ambiance, and that attracts people as well. The advanced services economy in cities like London and New York spark all kind of activities around it, as workers in the business and financial services sectors are high-level consumers. You get a synergy between the people who work in advanced services and the people who are visiting, so that between them there is enough of an audience to support ballet, opera, museums and especially shopping. Shopping has become the main form of entertainment for the tourist. I have a slide that shows a huge cruise ship pulled up to the main dock of Hong Kong. The gangplank from the ship goes directly to a huge shopping mall on the pier, so the passengers never actually have to walk on the ground in order to do their shopping. The Cayman Islands specialise in off-shore banking, which produces another agglomeration of people who travel in and out. So there are

Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

The Urban Reinventors Paper Series 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors

various niches that are available for places which were primarily just beach resorts. The problem now, of course, is finding a niche that is not already fully occupied. Tourism has the advantage that you do not exhaust the supply of tourists. People keep moving on, they keep going to more places. So what we see is a much more interconnected world, and a world where the character of industrial production - and I use the term industrial very broadly--the character of production, in general, has changed. It has decentralised and this has provided opportunities for many places to develop their economies based on tourism. The focus though has to go beyond just attracting visitors. It really does also have to be on these questions of social equity - equity for the resident and also for the visitor. It is not right to say we just want lite visitors, quality tourists who shop in the very best stores. Travel is a commodity that is generally desired and which should be available to all. So the question becomes: how do you make it available to all without destroying the places that people are visiting? The advantage of theme parks - real theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios - is that they are sort of tourist containment areas where they are prevented from overwhelming more fragile sites. But the more different kinds of things you can think to do, the better off you are in terms of fitting into the new post-fordist economy, fitting into this globally networked, restructured world in which we currently live.

Susan S. Fainstein: Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture Susan S. Fainstein The Urban Reinventors Issue 2 November 07 Celebrations of Urbanity 2005-2007 The Urban Reinventors