Academics to study how mass tourism affects Edinburgh


Princes Street, Edinburgh. Jane Barlow / PA Wire

Scottish academics are teaming up with colleagues across Europe to tackle the social exclusion created by mass tourism in cities like Edinburgh.

A new study will examine the impact that large volumes of visitors have on the local population, using the capital as one of many case studies.

Researchers from the University of Strathclyde are working with European partners on the EU-funded SMARTDEST project, which aims to help shape policies for cities at all levels of government and the potential for ‘more sustainable communities. and egalitarian ”.

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The researchers note that the growth of tourism in recent years has produced “conflicts, tensions and paradoxes” for residents as well as workers in cities like Barcelona, ​​Venice and Edinburgh.

They say that the impact of mass tourism on cities can include an increase in the cost of living, housing shortages, congestion of services and public spaces, growing precariousness of work and a change of identity. a zone.

The € 3.1 million study will examine how urban inequalities and exclusion are produced, experienced and managed in cities that are hubs for tourism and other related activities.

Strathclyde researchers will consider Edinburgh as a case study and examine different datasets on the impact of the city’s festivals and discuss with different interest groups.

They will focus specifically on employment, covering the odd-job economy, gender inequalities and migration.

The project – which runs until December 2022 – involves a consortium of 12 university partners from seven EU countries and one associated country, under the leadership of Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain.

Professor Tom Baum, Department of Work, Employment and Organization, University of Strathclyde, said: They see tourism as a threat.

“Our research will seek models in eight cities studied that face similar problems in a wide range of different geopolitical and socio-cultural contexts, engaging with local communities as well as with political and industrial actors as participants in the co-design of smart solutions.

“The results will be shared with European stakeholders and affected communities through an ambitious program of knowledge transfer events and constructive dialogues.

“The Covid-19 pandemic could herald a new era of slower and less mobile tourism. If so, will it be more inclusive? Or more democratic?

“With our team, Dr Pratima Sambajee and Dr Kendra Briken, we will be at the forefront of this debate, and will be able to monitor, inform and support the recovery process.”

Last summer, global travel information site CNN Travel named Edinburgh, along with Amsterdam, Rome, Venice and Barcelona, ​​as one of the world’s worst hot spots for “overtourism.”

The capital has been put on hold with the Taj Mahal in India, the Peruvian citadel of Machu Picchu, Dubrovnik in Croatia and Iceland as famous destinations “which can no longer cope with their own popularity”.


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