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ATLAS Urban Tourism Special Interest Group Meeting
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
3-4 June 2021
New Directions for Urban Tourism Post-COVID

ONLINE event

Due to the current situation in the Netherlands, and Europe in general, we unfortunately had to decide to have the evnt ONLINE totally

The deadline for abstract submission has been extended to 15 April, 2021



Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many cities were grappling with strong increases in visitor numbers which had resulted in a phenomenon that was widely being described as ‘overtourism’. This was partly attributed to budget airlines, Airbnb, problems of tourist (mis)behaviour within the night-time economy, as well as a lack of planning, investment and general mismanagement. Numerous case studies abounded within the academic literature that offered both examples and solutions. This was followed by more conceptual contributions that debated degrowth, tourism transformations, mobilities, city hospitality, placemaking and more.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a strong impact on urban tourism, and this requires yet another shift in conceptual thinking and applied measures. In this context cities provide interesting spaces in which to experiment and innovate, not least because they already provide a home for thousands of residents whose leisure patterns and quality of life have also been severely disrupted in recent months. Those who were deeply concerned about overtourism pre-COVID may now be lamenting the lack of economic opportunities and the income that tourism provided. Nevertheless, it is not desirable to return to the levels of unsustainable growth and disregard for resident wellbeing that existed previously. The travel behaviour of visitors will surely change, at least in the short term, as they are less inclined to visit crowded places and to gather in large groups. This may reduce urban tourism as whole or it might change the distribution of visitors from major attractions to less visited areas. Such a development could be positive, in that it provides areas with new opportunities for value creation, allows cities to develop a more diverse portfolio of options, which may make them more resilient, and fits with trends such as creative tourism and ‘New Urban Tourism’. It could also provide residents with a greater variety of leisure activities and experiences within their own city. Indeed, several DMOs promoted such intra-city tourism as a means to support the visitor economy during the pandemic, also with an eye on stimulating residents to become prouder of their city. At the same time such a development may have negative effects. If tourism is developed in a way that does not fit the locality and residential functions are replaced with those aimed at visitors.
This event seeks to provide some recommendations for future developments and new directions in both leisure and urban tourism post COVID 19. These may relate to product development, experience creation, visitor flow management, sustainable planning, smart solutions or other relevant themes. In particular we are interested in what may be put under the umbrella of ‘off-the-beaten track’ experiences and how they might contribute to the quality of life and experience in cities. Also, we invite scholars to think about tourism in relation to wider urban developments, rather than as a singular economic sector. Questions could relate to the expectations and desires that host communities have from tourism, tourist motivations, governance, participative planning and network structures, as well as the design of tourism experiences that support local issues and processes.



Conference themes

Themes which may be considered for this SIG event include, but are not limited to:

  • Future prospects for off-the-beaten track tourism
  • Post-COVID measures and security
  • De-growth or de-marketing of urban tourism
  • Understanding overtourism and providing solutions
  • SMART urban tourism and the role of technology and digitalisation
  • The contribution of tourism to liveable cities, wellbeing and quality of life
  • Sustainable urban tourism planning and management
  • City hospitality and urban tourism (including the future of Airbnb)
  • Re-distributing visitors and managing flows
  • Placemaking in the context of urban tourism
  • Creative cities
  • Participatory urban governance
  • Urban tourism and resilience


Abstract submission

All abstracts should be around 300 words and will be subject to double-blind review by the track convenors and members of the scientific committee of the ATLAS annual conference. Acceptance of a submission will be based on: theoretical and empirical significance; methodological soundness; relevance to the theme of the conference and logical clarity. The official language of the conference is English. Abstracts should be submitted via the ATLAS website using the abstract submission form.

Deadline for Submission: 15th March 2021

Those papers that seem suitable for publication will be considered for a Special Issue of the International Journal of Tourism Cities. Those authors will be asked to provide an Extended Abstract and later a full paper.


Important dates

Abstract submission : 15 March, 2021
15 April, 2021
Notification of acceptance : 31 March, 2021
30 April, 2021
Meeting : June 3-4th, 2021
Full paper submission : August 4th, 2021


Provisional programme

Thursday 3rd June, 2021

09.00–09.30: Arrival, welcome and introductions
10.00–10.30: Introduction to the themes of the SIG (Ko Koens and Melanie Smith)
10.30-11.30: SIG member presentations (20 minutes each)
11.30-11.45: Coffee break
11.45-12.45: SIG member presentations (20 minutes each)
12.45-13.30: Lunch break
13.30-15.10: SIG member presentations (20 minutes each)
15.10-15.30: Coffee break
15.30-16.30: SIG member presentations (20 minutes each) OR World café (depending on the number of speakers)
16.30-17.30: Social event: virtual tour of Rotterdam

Friday 4th June, 2021

09.00-10.40: SIG member presentations (20 minutes each)
10.40-11.00: Coffee break
11.00-12.40: SIG member presentations (20 minutes each)
12.40–13.30: Lunch
13.30–14.30: Replay of Ko Koens’s inaugural lecture from 2nd June: Re-inventing tourism: towards sustainable urban tourism design + final discussion (with Melanie Smith)


Conference packages


Packages: ATLAS members Non-Members
Participants  FREE
€ 30
Students FREE
Certificate € 15
€ 15




Meeting organisers

Ko Koens – Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands,
Melanie Smith – Budapest Metropolitan University, Hungary,




  • Contact
    Please contact: e-mail
  • Registration
    Submit this form to register for the conference
  • Abstract submission form
    Submit this form to submit an abstract for the conference.


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