Tourism, Place-Making and Urban Transformations in Barcelona and Beirut

Publication date:
Waleed Hazbun, American University of Beirut

The activity of visitors and tourists is vital to the economic systems of most large urban areas. As cities face global competition for visitors they become more interested in refashioning their built environment and marketing their image to encourage and sustain these flows. At the same time, tourism-oriented urban transformations help integrate cities into the global market economy of tourist, capital and image flows. In the process, the interests, agency and built spaces of urban communities risk being marginalised in the face of the demands of global markets. At the extreme, as we have seen in Barcelona, Venice and other popular and “successful” tourist cities, local communities mobilise to limit these tourist flows, challenge the tourism-oriented development model, and seek to reclaim their “right to the city.” Sustainable urban development therefore requires strategies to promote tourism development while managing it through inclusive, democratic, community-involved processes. This chapter explores these dynamics through a study of the contrasting experiences of tourism development in the Mediterranean cities of Barcelona and Beirut.