Instead of harnessing negative feelings towards high numbers of tourists visiting your city, let us turn those feelings around and help them out a bit. Who knows better where there are nice places to visit in your town than you? Spreading visitors throughout the city might even solve some of the problems mass-tourism brings with it.
The fact that tourists and locals tend to not go to the same areas in cities isn’t a big shocker, but it has somewhat negative effect: centralizing tourist activities in specific areas tends to make those areas increasingly unattractive for residents. The activities of people on vacation mismatch with that of people actually living there: going out, staying up late vs. living, working, regular sleep hours etc. To this effect residents move out and souvenir shops, fast food restaurants and cheap hostels fill their spots- in a nut shell creating less desirable neighborhoods.
Mapping tourists & locals
If all of this sounds unfamiliar to you, have a look at these wonderful map simulations by data-artist Erik Fischer that show where tourists and where residents concentrate in some of the major towns around the world. Fischer uses social media data from websites like Flickr and Picasa to visualize the whereabouts of people in the city. People that upload photos over a longer period of time are categorized as locals, whereas users uploading pictures of a place only for a short amount of time are categorized as visitors.
Browse around here.
So let us say it will be good for cities to spread out visitors over the city, and maybe more importantly having visitors and locals interact with one another a bit more. Let us have a look at some initiatives in Europe that do just that:
The Neukölln Schatzkarte
In recent years Berlin has become the number one tourist destination of Europe. Neukölln Schatzkarte is here to guide visitors around the increasingly popular neighborhood of Neukölln, helping out local entrepreneurs. The treasure map can be found in print at the shops and initiatives sites throughout the neighborhood. Make sure to like their Facebook to get to know the people behind the local shops and keep an eye out for their website, soon to be published.
The treasure map is a great project that brings together people living in the neighborhood, those that have started their business there and visitors from other neighborhoods and from all over the world.
With local city reporters from Amsterdam, Oslo, Rotterdam, Bucharest, Minneapolis and Montreal, cintinerary is quickly becoming the go-to website for tips from locals.
Citinerary is an international network of passionate citizens who share stories and meet visitors. An exchange of culture & lifestyle.
Each city page is filled with tips for both locals and visitors. The local team of correspondents create content on art, food, music, pretty much anything. The website is filled with neighborhood portraits, reports and interviews. Make sure you check out their website if you are planning to visit any of the cities they cover.
Lisbon Sustainable Tourism
In Lisbon they are using tourists for a social cause. You can book a tour through the city, not your average touristic sightseeing tour, but a guided tour that will bring you to the neighborhoods of the city that aren’t frequented by tourists in a small group. In this way visitors can experience Lisbon like locals do, and truly experience Portuguese history and culture, whilst learning about the social and economical aspects of the city.
What is so great about these tours is that they are set up with a social mission; by guiding visitors through Lisbon, the organizers earn money that they use to show Lisbon to its local population that never gets to visit the historic center. They do tours with kids from low-income neighborhoods and guide the elderly through their city. Lisbon Sustainable Tourism is not a tour company, they set out to give visitors the best experience of Lisbon possible just as they want locals to enjoy their city.
Coming from a low-income neighborhood – Bairro Padre Cruz – in the suburbs of the city, most of them had never been to the city center, had no idea about the cathedral or the narrow streets of Alfama.
Book a tour here.