Category: Geography

Tourism in London: Ever more ‘pivotal and pervasive’.

Tourism in London: Ever more ‘pivotal and pervasive’.

In this extract from the introduction to our latest title editor Andrew Smith outlines the increasing presence and significance of London’s tourism.

Available to read or download open access Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy was published on the 21st May and is an initiative of the Tourism and Events Research Group of the University of Westminster. (The complete referenced version of the introduction is available on its own here).

‘London hosts a very significant visitor economy and overnight visitors contribute approximately £14.9 billion of expenditure to the city every year. When the city hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 the UK’s capital was already a leading global destination, but staging this mega-event instigated a new period of growth. In the period 2011-2016 tourism numbers increased by 25% and over the past few years the city has experienced a series of record years for arrivals. Despite already being one of the three most visited cities in the world – hosting 31.2 million overnight visitors in 2016 – city officials expect visitor arrivals to increase further: to over 40 million overnight visitors by 2025. Put simply, tourism is already a very significant economic and social phenomenon in London, but over the next few decades it will become even more pivotal and pervasive. 

London’s status as one of the world’s most visited destinations is not universally welcomed. At the moment there is considerable media and academic attention dedicated to the problem of rapid tourism growth and what has become known as over-tourism. This coverage has focused on various European capitals: from Berlin to Barcelona, Ljubljana to Lisbon. Even though the UK’s capital city seems like the ideal case through which to explore the ways that destinations evolve and expand, there has been surprisingly little attention devoted to London in these debates. This book explores how and why tourism is growing in Europe’s most popular city destination; and what benefits and problems accrue from expanding the tourism sector in a city already hosting 19 million overseas tourists and 12 million overnight domestic visitors every year. These additional people mean London’s population grows considerably every day, especially when one considers the 300,000 people that commute daily to the capital from outside Greater London and the daily influx of 750,000 non staying visitors. London hosts a residential population of around 8.8 million people, but its ‘daytime’ population – i.e. that which includes workers, visitors and tourists is estimated to be over well over 10 million. Tourists and day visitors now make up over 10% of London’s daytime population.

The book analyses how and why the expansion of the visitor economy is happening; and what effect this is having on the city. Contributions from various authors demonstrate how Destination London is developing through the extension of tourism into new spaces and new spheres. The book outlines how parts of London not previously regarded as tourism territories – e.g. residential suburbs, peripheral parks and private homes – are now subject to the tourist gaze. Tourists are being encouraged to visit places outside the centre and stay in accommodation owned by residents. In a similar manner, London is constantly creating new eventscapes to capitalise on the experience economy and providing reasons to visit at different times – in winter and at night. These types of initiatives feature prominently in London’s new ‘Tourism Vision’, which explicitly outlines the city’s aim to grow tourism ‘by encouraging visitors to explore the city’s outer districts, both in and out of season and around the clock’ .

Contemporary expansion is being facilitated by extending the capacity of existing services (e.g. by running the Underground 24 hrs a day), and by building new infrastructure (e.g. the new Crossrail network and a new runway at Heathrow Airport) and accommodation provision (plans for 23,000 new hotel rooms by 2025). However, growth in the visitor economy is driven more by market and cultural trends than any deliberate planning and policy; and this unfettered growth is likely to outrun formal provision. The rise of social media and the sharing economy, and the desire for new, distinctive and personalised experiences, are pushing tourists into peripheral locations, but also advancing tourism into spheres not normally considered tourism territory.  Growth is likely to be enabled and absorbed by unofficial tourism providers including London’s residents who now provide a range of services: most obviously accommodation, but also food, travel, and guiding. This book explores these trends and, in doing so, highlights the mechanisms and processes that are driving the expansion of the visitor economy. The discussion enhances understanding of London, but it also helps us to better appreciate the ways that tourism in cities is expanding into new spaces, times and spheres’. 

Event to mark launch of Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy

Event to mark launch of Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy

Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy will be published and launched on the 22nd of May at 18.00, the Boardroom, University of Westminster 309 Regent Street London W1B 2HW.

This book provides a fascinating account of tourism development in London, one of the world’s most visited destinations and a place where the visitor economy has grown in recent years. It explores how tourism has extended into new areas beyond the city centre, but also how it has expanded into new spheres (e.g. private homes) and new time periods (winter, and the night). A collaboration between University of Westminster staff members, drawing on their strengths in the fields of city tourism, sustainable tourism, air transport and the night time economy, and their unique position in the School of Architecture and Cities with particular focus on tourism and events.

For full details and signing up see eventbrite.

UWP 2019 catalogue out

UWP 2019 catalogue out

Delighted to announce the arrival of UWP 2019 catalogue. Forty-six pages of books and journals. All UWP published titles are open access.

Following our first book title published in October 2016 Critical Theory of Communication by Christian Fuchs, we are now listing 44 with over 13 titles published or firmly scheduled in our flagship Critical and Digital Media Studies series.

There are books in Media Studies, Politics/Theory, our Law and the Senses series, Geography, History and Education. And some details of our published two journals Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture and Entertainment and Sports Law Journal.

You can download, then view the catalogue here.

uwestminsterpress.co.uk

Communications and Geography: An Ever-Closer Union?

Communications and Geography: An Ever-Closer Union?

Here in an extract from his editorial Doug Specht in the latest issue* of Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture  reflects on how space has not gone away or been ‘annihilated’. He considers how communication theories may help understand a world in which maps of all kinds are being reconfigured with the aid of the users and suppliers of Big Data  as space in all dimensions is being mediated and reshaped. 

Late twentieth century communication and information technologies have produced such a blurring of what is real and what is representation that the two can no longer be distinguished (Corner, 1999), leading to persistent questions over how human behaviour is constituted through space and time, and within specific social contexts (Dear, 1988). Our mappings of the world, be they through cartographic representations and data visualizations (Space-in-media), or mediated senses of place (Place-in-Media, and Media-in-Place), are in-between the virtual and the physical. A distinction not to be confused with a distinction between real and fake, ‘as we would not claim that our bodies are real while our minds are fake’ (Smith, 2017: 30). Did you find the world or did you make it up? asked Winnicotts (cited in Corner, 1999), a salient question indeed. The information super-highway agenda of the 1990s was designed to change the very fabric of society (Robins, 1997), to create a homogenized flow of communications transcending geography (Greig, 2001). This post-modern condition of ‘space-time compression’ (Harvey, 1989) would annihilate space. Yet, space has not disappeared, but has re-established itself in new spheres, created of ever larger data, and increasingly mediated, and must then be understood through the use of semiotic and communication theories, such as the Marxist spatial frameworks of Castells and Lefebvre, or the Ideologiekritik of the Frankfurt School (Lagopoulos, 1993). The postmodern creates tensions between all theories in an attempt to best understand the conditions of existence, at its core, perhaps, lies the dialectic between space and society; a geographical puzzle in which structures, institutions and human agents operate on different scales to define spatial patterns in any given locale (Dear, 1988). The individual does not disappear in the midst of the social effects caused by the pressures of the masses, but is instead affirmed (Lefebvre, 1991). It is seeing that establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it, as Fuchs (2018) states: ‘means of communication are (just like social space) means of production through which humans produce social relations and therefore also social space’ (p. 19). The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know than the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight (Berger, 1972/2008). While human geography has always been a maze of diverse interests (Dear, 1988), the use of Geographic Information has changed dramatically in the past decade, and continues to do so; increasingly it is used in mediated practices, to shape stories, to transcend boundaries, to develop new ethereal networks, as well as to produce maps. But even in those maps, users themselves are being encouraged to crowdsource data, be that to add to the ‘usefulness of the map’ or to create counter maps. Data has become the standard way in which the world is ordered (Thatcher and Dalton, 2017), with those that link location and temporal information being seen as fixes for capitalism’s tendencies towards over-accumulation (Greene and Joseph, 2015). As the scholars in this issue demonstrate, there is much to be gained from the combining of communications theories and those from the geographic disciplines. Bringing the two together allows for an alternate, nuanced, and a spatially grounded approach to envisioning the myriad ways in which the digital age mediates social, economic and political experiences and, in particular, in the increasingly technologically informed media and communications sector.

[*’GEOGRAPHY AND COMMUNICATIONS‘  the full open access issue can be viewed or downloaded at the WPCC website ]

REFERENCES

Berger, J. (1972/2008). Ways of Seeing, . London: Penguin UK.

Corner, J. (1999). The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention. In: Dodge, M., Kitchin, R., & Perkin, C. (eds.), The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation, 213–252, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Dear, M. (1988). The postmodern challenge: Reconstructing human geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 262–274. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/622990  

Fuchs, C. (2018). Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space and the critical theory of communication. Communication Theory, 1–22. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ct/qty025  

Greene, D. M., & Joseph, D. (2015). The digital spatial fix. tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, 13(2): 223–247. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31269/triplec.v13i2.659 

Harvey, D. (1989). The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Social Change. Malden, MA: Blackwell. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1191/030913298669028680

Lagopoulos, A. P. (1993). Postmodernism, geography, and the social semiotics of space. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 11(3): 255–278. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1068/d110255

Lefebvre, H. (1991). The Production of Space. Blackwell: Oxford

Robins, K. (1997). The new communications geography and the politics of optimism. Soundings 5, 191–202.

Smith, T. G. (2017). Politicizing Digital Space. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book5

Thatcher, J., & Dalton, C. M. (2017). Data Derives: Confronting Digital Geographic Information as Spectacle. In: Briziarelli, M., & Armano, E. (eds.), The Spectacle 2.0: Reading Debord in the Context of Digital Capitalism. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book11.h