Shaping Urban Destinations

Perspectives on tourist attractions

Authored by: Sello Samuel Nthebe , Magdalena Petronella (Nellie) Swart

Routledge Handbook of Tourism Cities

Print publication date:  August  2020
Online publication date:  August  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367199999
eBook ISBN: 9780429244605
Adobe ISBN:


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Tourist attractions have shaped the development of urban tourist cities since the earliest developments in the field of tourism. The history of tourist attractions is captured in ancient archaeological sites, which are known for their economic contribution to modern-day cities. Tourist attractions stimulate the interest and curiosity of travellers and are often highlighted as “must-see” or “bucket-list” experiences. The aim of this chapter is to outline current perspectives on tourist attractions in terms of how they shape urban destination development, and to do so specifically through the lens of business tourists. We explore how historical and intellectual developments associated with tourist attractions have contributed (and continue to contribute) to the development of urban tourism destinations. An outline is given of the different types of tourist attractions and impacts, to support the main claims and developmental stages. Four factors are highlighted here, namely: (i) the range of tourist attractions, (ii) security at those attractions, (iii) their authenticity and (iv) the location of the tourist’s accommodation. These factors do not only impact people’s desires to visit tourist attractions, but have also proven to be crucial elements of destination attractiveness (Dimitrov, Stankova, Vasenska & Uzunova, 2017; Lee & Huang, 2014; Owusu-Frimpong, Nwankwo, Blankson & Tarnanidis, 2013) and destination competitiveness, except for the location of the tourist’s accommodation, (Bianchi, 2018). In addition, these factors impact leisure and bleisure experiences at a destination (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2019). This is clarified by aligning those factors with the principal contributions of, and major criticisms associated with, the development of tourist attractions at urban destinations. The chapter concludes with four proposals outlining how future research on tourist attractions can continue to spur sustainable development at urban tourism destinations.

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