July 14, 2015


Is Banning Tourists the Solution to Gentrification? : A 'tourist cap' might be in the works in Barcelona to fight rising costs of living and disorderly behavior. (MARTIN DE BOURMONT, 7/13/15, In These Times)

A 2004 study published by Tulane University sociologist Kevin Fox Gotham in Urban Studies indicates it may be wrong to blame tourists alone. The transformation of a city into a place that caters to tourists over residents is also the result of targeted investments by developers, often supported by city governments.

Cities seeking more economic development partner with these investors to become more attractive to tourists and upper-income residents by building hotels, entertainment venues and upscale housing. Suddenly, traditionally working- and middle-class neighborhoods are inaccessible to residents of modest means.

Gotham's study uses New Orleans's French Quarter as a case study. In the 1980s, for instance, the construction of upscale hotels in the French Quarter provided investors with an incentive to renovate properties on the district's Canal Street and transform Bourbon Street bars into upscale music venues. The resultant expansion of tourist activity in the area would lead to a 50 percent increase in rents on the street between the mid-1990s and 2002, with some properties more than doubling their rental price.

Spurred on by an expanding tourism industry dependent on "an image of nostalgia," Gotham writes, investors bought and renovated properties to reflect a notion of the French Quarter as a neighborhood of "red-brick town houses, cast-iron galleries over public sidewalks and enchanting backyard gardens." By the early 2000s, this process left "few unrehabilitated residential houses for sale," in a neighborhood where "the asking price for single-family homes is far beyond the means of low-income-housing tenants."

Moreover, writes Gotham, the demographic changes caused by skyrocketing rents and increasing tourism coincided "with a dramatic restructuring of the commercial base of the neighborhood." Between 1950 and 1999, he reports, resident-oriented businesses like "barbers, department stores, shoe shops, small groceries and laundry services" decreased by 15 percent, while tourist businesses like T-shirt shops increased by 32 percent.

"Gentrification and tourism," concludes Gotham, "are largely driven by mega-sized financial firms and entertainment corporations who have formed new institutional connections with traditional city boosters (chambers of commerce, city governments, service industries) to market cities and their neighborhoods."

Cities should ban residents and be just for daily tourists/workers.

Posted by at July 14, 2015 3:35 PM

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