Tourism and the Commodification of Urban Culture
By Susan S. Fainstein

Celebrations of Urbanity - The Urban Reinventors, Issue Nr. 2, December 2007

“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. 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…”

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Link to related Susan Fainstein’s essay “Cities and Diversity. Should we want it? Can we plan for it?” (Urban Affair Reviews Vol. 41, No. 1, 3-19 (2005) © 2005 SAGE Publications)

Widely regarded as a leading figure in the field of urban planning, Susan Fainstein’s 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.

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