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Contact Details of Coordinators

 

  • Professor Robert Maitland
    Director, The Centre for Tourism Research
    University of Westminster
    35 Marylebone Road
    London NW1 5LS, United Kingdom
    Office +44(0) 207 911 5000 ext 3114
    Fax: + 44(0) 207 911 5171
    Email: r.a.maitland@wmin.ac.uk

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Rationale

Despite the size and importance of cities as origin and destination points for visitors, little research has been conducted on urban tourism (Page & Hall, 2003). Page (2006) suggests that most of the research that is concerned with urban tourism has not been framed by a global perspective, while Pearce (2001) concurs, suggesting a more macro analysis of urban tourism is required. This lack of attention has the potential to limit our theoretical understanding and ability to contribute practical knowledge related to urban tourism.

Capital cities are vital to the development of urban tourism. According to Hall (2002:235) "capital cities are an important component of the national fabric of almost every country in the world yet, surprisingly, very little has been written about their tourism significance beyond a city by city basis." However, by simple definition, national capitals cities are the seat of the national government and although this role can vary widely, in general "capitals are unique from other cities because they provide a special site for the concentration, administration and representation of political power" (Campbell 2003:3). Therefore despite their heterogeneity, national capitals do share a common function, and often this common function is cited as the root of a number of tourism marketing, planning and development issues.

Capital cities provide an administrative base of government operations creating spin off effects for business travel. Capital cities also provide the setting for the nation's culture, history and democracy and can therefore attract significant numbers of school excursions and help students to understand citizenship, democracy and history. Capital cities also hold major national institutions that are significant for tourism as well as preserving and presenting national heritage and national culture (Therborn, 1996), which often take place in tourist precincts.

Since capitals share a range of tourism issues they could benefit from the exchange of information, ideas, strategies and experiences. For this reason, to enhance and further advance tourism in capital cities it would be highly beneficial to examine issues systematically, with research that goes beyond a case by case basis, addressing tourism marketing, planning and development issues that may apply more broadly.

National capitals provide key tourism resources and are often a unique selling point for place marketing, yet the role of 'capitalness' in the marketing and development of tourism in capital cities is not well understood. Tourism may play an important role in diversifying the public sector economy and help change negative images and stereotypes that capital cities may portray. The extent to which the capital dimension influences the branding and marketing of capital cities is a particular issue, as is the issue of tourism development and planning. In particular, national capitals often operate in a capital region providing the need for cross border co-operation as well as co-operation between local, regional and national government agencies as they often serve local, national and even international interests making them interesting to study. Furthermore, tourism in capital cities may contribute to national identity and citizenship. Currently, some cities are asserting or re-asserting their status as national capitals as ideas of national identity change and political power is devolved (Barcelona increasingly sees itself as the national capital of Catalunya, rather than a provincial capital in Spain, Cardiff as the national capital of Wales, not simply a British city). The role of tourism in this process merits examination.

The special interest group will focus on the marketing, planning and development issues concerned with tourism in capital cities. Potential topics for exploration include:

  • Tourism as a place promotion or restructuring tool in national capital cities
  • The development and marketing of tourism precincts in capital cities
  • Educational and school tourism
  • Tourism, national identity and citizenship
  • Capital cities as gateway cities
  • Branding and positioning capital cities
  • Local and visitor perceptions of capital cities and the influence of capital status on visitation
  • The role of politicians in marketing capital cities
  • The role of the media and reporting on images of capital cities
  • Visual representations of national capital cities
  • Conferences, exhibitions and special events as marketing, re-imaging or branding tools
  • Importance of capital cities to particular visitor segments
  • Engaging local residents in marketing national capital cities
  • Engaging local residents in marketing national capital cities
  • Marketing national cultural institutions
  • Tourism in emerging national capitals
  • Tourism planning and development issues in capital city tourism including collaboration and cross border marketing and planning issues
  • International comparisons in the marketing and development of national capitals

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Main activities

Potential projects could include:

  • Definitional analysis and conceptualisation of capital city types and issues facing capital cities
  • Compilation of a comprehensive bibliography of literature and practitioner materials to scope existing work and research gaps
  • Cross country project to develop a method to estimate the size and scope of school excursion tourism in capital cities (secondary data from attractions and primary research)
  • Cross country project to examine role of capital status in attracting visitors and its impact of visitor behaviour, perceptions and identity (visitor survey)
  • Cross country project to examine visitor perceptions of capital cities (destination image study comparing capital cities with 'primary' cities)
  • Cross country project to examine branding of capital cities (the extent to which capital status is used in marketing and branding; links to national branding)
  • Expert meeting and special conference sessions

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Annual review of activities 2017

Robert Maitland
University of Westminster, United Kingdom

Tourism in cities and national capitals: next steps for research

It is now over 10 years since this SIG was established. During that time, we have focused on developing research and literature on tourism and national capitals. National capitals have long been important destinations, and tourism has been integral to their development, yet when we began, national capital tourism had received little attention in either the urban studies or tourism literature.

The work of the SIG has gone a long way to remedying that and we have sparked sustained interest in research on tourism and national capitals. Around one hundred scholars have been members of the SIG, and there has been an active and successful publishing programme. Brent Ritchie and I edited a book and a journal special issue; I went on to edit a further book and a journal double issue, and co-organised a joint meeting with the Cultural Tourism SIG - Greg Richards and Paolo Russo edited an ATLAS book based on the papers presented. In all, more than 60 papers have been published, authored by more than 50 scholars, examining more than 30 cities. This represents a very solid achievement for the SIG.

We had a well-attended meeting at the ATLAS conference 2016 in Canterbury, UK. There was a positive response to potential new research directions that I proposed, and some lively discussion. However, members of the group proved unable to commit to taking responsibility to move the work of the SIG forward. I think that means we have to consider whether now is the time to deem its work is complete.

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Annual review of activities 2016

Robert Maitland
University of Westminster, United Kingdom

Tourism in cities and national capitals: next steps for research

It is now almost 10 years since this SIG was established. During that time, we have focused on developing research and literature on tourism and national capitals. National capitals have long been important destinations, and tourism has been integral to their development, yet when we began, national capital tourism had received little attention in either the urban studies or tourism literature (Pearce 2007).

The work of the SIG has gone a long way to remedying that. We have sparked sustained interest in research, and Brent Ritchie and I edited a book and journal special issue; I edited a further book and journal double issue; and Greg Richards and Paolo Russo edited an ATLAS book arising from a joint meeting with the Cultural Tourism SIG. In all more than 60 papers have been published, authored by more than 50 scholars, examining more than 30 cities. This represents a very solid achievement for the SIG.

There is now an opportunity to consider future directions for our research. This paper will review themes and features of our work to date, and consider possible ways forward and future meetings.

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Annual review of activities 2015

Robert Maitland
University of Westminster, United Kingdom

After a very active period that saw the publication of a book I edited with Brent Ritchie as well as a journal double issue, we have continued to make progress.

Routledge published the book ‘Tourism in National Capitals and Global Change’, which I edited. It was based on articles previously published in the special issue of Current Issues in Tourism, and helps make accessible the growing literature on tourism in national capitals that the SIG has fostered and members have authored.

A joint expert meeting with the Cultural Tourism SIG on Alternative and Creative Tourism was held in Barcelona, co-organised with Greg Richards and Melanie Smith. One outcome was that papers from the meeting were edited to produce a book edited by Greg Richards and Antonio Paolo Russo (Alternative and Creative Tourism ATLAS 2014). There are 10 chapters on aspects of creative and alternative tourism, and it is available via the ATLAS website.

Brent Ritchie has decided to step down as Co-Chair, as his research interests have moved in a different direction. We thank him for his work in establishing and developing the SIG.
There will not be a meeting of the SIG at the ATLAS 2015 conference, but we will arrange other activities in the future.

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Annual review of activities 2014

Robert Maitland
University of Westminster, United Kingdom

We have continued to make progress since our last SIG meeting.

Routledge published the book ‘Tourism in National Capitals and Global Change’, which I edited. It was based on articles previously published in the special issue of Current Issues in Tourism, and helps make accessible the growing literature on tourism in national capitals that the SIG has fostered and members have authored.

A joint expert meeting with the Cultural Tourism SIG on Alternative and Creative Tourism was held in Barcelona in June 2013. Although I was a member of the organising committee and submitted a paper, I was not able actually to attend (thanks to strike action by French air traffic controllers). However Greg Richards and Melanie Smith organised a very successful meeting. One outcome was that papers from the meeting were edited to produce a book edited by Greg Richards and Antonio Paolo Russo (Alternative and Creative Tourism ATLAS 2014). There are 10 chapters on aspects of creative and alternative tourism, and it is available via the ATLAS website.

A meeting of the Cities and National Capitals SIG will take place at the ATLAS 2015 conference.

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Annual review of activities 2013

Robert Maitland
University of Westminster, United Kingdom

There are two main areas of progress to report in 2013.

First, Routledge published the book ‘Tourism in National Capitals and Global Change’, which I edited. It was based on articles previously published in the special issue of Current Issues in Tourism, and helps make accessible the growing literature on tourism in national capitals that the SIG has fostered and members have authored.

Second, we organised a joint expert meeting with the Cultural Tourism SIG on Alternative and Creative Tourism, in Barcelona in June. Although I was a member of the organising committee and submitted a paper, I was not able actually to attend, thanks to strike action by French air traffic controllers. I did spend a day at London Gatwick though ... In the circumstances I can’t actually provide a plausible report of the event, but Greg Richards who took the leads in organising has done so, and it is below.

Alternative and Creative Tourism Expert Meeting Report
By Greg Richards


The ATLAS Cultural Tourism and City and National Capital Tourism Research Groups held a joint expert meeting on the theme Alternative and Creative Tourism in Barcelona on June 13-14 2013. The meeting was attended by 19 delegates from Spain, Portugal, the UK, Italy, Thailand, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Veronica Sepúlveda gave an introduction to SETBA (www.setba.net), the artistic foundation that hosted the meeting in the centre of Barcelona. Their projects include actions to promote art and culture. SETBA Jove is a project for young artists to bring fresh ideas to the art scene. An exhibition of art by artists under 30 is held every September. The Arts Balcony project is directed at people with a mental disability, aimed at increasing integration. The Nature is Culture project also aimed at mentally disabled people to visit nature to clean the forest and used natural material to build sculptures. The space where the meeting was held is used as an exhibition space with guided visits by the artist. SETBA aso hosts artistic workshops on Gaudi, Miro and Picasso as a way of promoting Catalan culture and creative tourism. They also promote local gastronomy through Catalan cheese and wine tastings.

Caroline Couret gave an introduction to the work of the Creative Tourism Network (www.creativetourismnetwork.org), which aims to develop creative tourism in different areas of the world. The network includes major cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Rome. The network was launched in 2005 in Barcelona. Creative tourism projects in Barcelona are run by FUSIC, a cultural foundation created after the dictatorship to develop creative and artistic projects.

The first of the scientific papers was presented by Greg Richards, who reviewed the growth of alternative and creative tourism as a counterweight to the increase in conventional tourism in recent decades. In particular ‘live like a local’ or ‘relational’ forms of tourism are becoming important, even though the ‘local’ providing these experiences is rarely a native of the city. Expats and migrants seem to have a greater transcultural skills base to develop such products, or else have fewer possibilities to get involved in the established tourism industry.

Albert Arias Sans and Paolo Russo from Tarragona presented an analysis of new relational forms of tourism, and how these are serving to create new tourist spaces in the neighbourhood of Gràcia in Barcelona. In recent years Gràcia has become a lively cosmopolitan space inhabited by ‘locals’, expats and tourists. The liveliness of these spaces is what attracts all of these disparate groups to mix in this emerging tourist space.

The paper by Rafael Machado and Carlos Fernandes from the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, examined the development of an art Biennale in the small city of Vila Nova de Cerveira. This event has run since 1980 and is now the second most prestigious event in the country, in spite of the predominantly rural location. The research emphasised the role of local ‘switchers’ in linking this space to the global flows of the art world.

Lénia Marques and Kristel Zegers from NHTV Breda analysed the growth of creative temporary accommodation as ephemeral spaces in cities. In recent years many ‘alternative’ forms of accommodation have become available, including such as couch surfing, house swapping, design apartments, design hotels and hostels, glamping, creative hotels, boutique hotels, pop-up hotels and temporary designer accommodation. This growth reflects not just a rising demand for different types of accommodation, but also the need to use space in cities more creatively. This is therefore a good example of ‘creative tourism’ where both destination and visitor interact creatively.

G. Emanuele Adamo from the University of Bedford Business School in the UK and Sonia Ferrari from of the University of Calabria in Italy presented a paper on the use of creativity as source of differentiation in cities. They highlighted the use of events, such as the Winter Olympics in the case of Turin, as a vehicle for creative development. They developed a typology of different creative development strategies for cities.

Monica Gilli from the Bicocca University of Milan and Sonia Ferrari of the University of Calabria traced the use of film as a means of distinction for cities, underlining growing efforts to attract filmmakers and film festivals. Movie-induced tourism has been particularly important in generating visits to cities such as Florence (A room with a view) and Rome (La dolce vita), and now other cities are trying to replicate this success. The historic centre of the Italian southern town of Matera has experienced a renaissance largely as a result of films such as Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ, which has also attracted other filmmakers. The paper emphasises that the planned efforts to attract filmmakers to places are often less important than the whims of the filmmakers themselves.

The role of ethnic quarters as tourist attractions in Budapest was the subject of a paper presented by Melanie Smith and Anita Zatori from Budapest Business School. They looked at the way in which Jewish and Roma areas have been integrated into the alternative tourism system in the city. In particular Jewish heritage has been promoted by tour operators and through the development of new festivals to animate these designated ‘quarters’.

The paper by Goretti Silva and Marta Cardoso from the Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo, Portugal outlined creativity as a new buzzword in tourism, and how traditional cultural attractions increasingly need to develop new creative elements. For example gastronomy events such as the Santarem National Gastronomy Festival need to develop engagement with the consumer and interaction and co-creation. At present this event takes place in a tent on the edge of the city, so there is no physical link with the city. Most visitors are from the local area and are day visitors, so economic impact is relatively low. The festival is declining because it is not creative or dynamic.

Milica Ilinic analysed the outcomes of creative tourism experiences using a benefits-based model of experience. The links between activities, setting, experience and benefits were analysed in a case study of the Espai Boisa in Barcelona, where tourists make traditional Catalan dishes. She found that learning and participation related motives were linked to cognitive, affective and reflective benefits. Espai Boisa was generally perceived as authentic and memorable, even though the experience is effectively ‘staged’.

Ole Kjaer Mansfeldt from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – School of Design and Roskilde University in Denmark outlined the development of the experience economy, and how this is creating new ‘in-between’ experiences for tourists. The concept of in-between experience presents a dynamic between experience-scapes and escapes from tourism-dominated precincts, as exemplified in many ‘live like a local’ experiences or the rise of ‘alternative’ forms of tourism such as Airbnb.

Susana Rachão and Carlos Fernandes from the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, looked at how the city of Viana do Castelo is re-engineering itself as a creative destination. Viana has a range of tourist products, including a major festival and regional gastronomy, but funds it hard to distinguish itself from similar cities. The perception of creativity was measured through a visitor survey, which showed that respondents visited for holiday purposes looking for local culture and heritage which is reflected in the types of activities undertaken, namely cultural itineraries, fairs/popular festivals and exhibitions. The tourists therefore largely consume cultural, rather than creative tourism.

A case study of community involvement in creative tourism in Thailand was presented by Nonthawan Songserm of the Assumption University of Thailand and Jutamas (Jan) Wisansing of the Perfect Link Consulting Group, Bangkok. Using Appreciative Participatory Planning and Action (APPA) techniques they showed how local communities can be engaged in the process of developing creative tourism and interacting creatively with visitors. They identified three different groups with respect to the development process, namely facilitators, community based organisations and observers, all of whom have their own role to play. This project is part of a national programme of Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration, which has selected creative tourism as one of the main areas for sustainable tourism development in Thailand.

Francesca Forno and Roberta Garibaldi from the University of Bergamo, Italy examined the growth of home exchange as a form of alternative tourism in Italy. In spite of the fact that home exchange has been slow to take off in Latin countries for cultural reasons, there is a growing number of house swap participants in Italy. Their survey indicated that the majority of participants were well educated city dwellers. They also have a far higher level of generalised trust than the Italian population as a whole, which facilitates their swapping activities. This form of ‘relational tourism’ was also stimulated by knowing somebody else who had participated.

Next steps

At the end of the meeting there was discussion on the next steps for the research groups, and also the possible publications activity for the meeting. It was agreed that the developing fields and alternative and creative tourism required more research, particularly the way in which creativity has become a strategy for producing distinction in an increasingly crowded tourist market.

There was also discussion of a number of basic principles for creative tourism. This seems to be particularly important in the face of programmes that use creativity as a label rather than a truly creative experience.

The group aims to produce an e-book of the proceedings of the meeting, which will be edited by a small group who will meet at the ATLAS annual conference in November 2013 in Malta. Authors are therefore requested to submit their full papers for publication by October 15th 2013.

There is a further conference on creative tourism planned in Porto Alegre in Brazil from October 22-23, 2013, organised by Creative Tourism Brazil. The meeting will be attended by Creative Tourism Barcelona and other members of the Creative Tourism Network.

For more information on the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Research Group, or Creative Tourism, please contact Greg Richards (g.w.richards@uvt.nl), and for more information on the ATLAS City and National Capital Tourism Research Group please contact Robert Maitland (r.a.maitland@wmin.ac.uk).

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Annual review of activities 2012

Robert Maitland
University of Westminster, United Kingdom

Despite the size and importance of cities as places of departure and as tourism destinations, for many years comparatively little research was conducted on urban tourism. The last decade has seen a welcome increase in research activity, but as Ashworth and Page (2011) point out, we now need to connect this work with developing ideas in the social sciences, particularly urban studies.

This SIG aims to foster research in city tourism and promote the interchange of ideas amongst scholars working in the field. It was launched some five years ago and has progressed well, with over 70 members from around the world. Whilst it encompasses all elements of city tourism we decided to focus initially on tourism in national capitals. There were two reasons for this. First, to ensure that we had a clear direction in which we could make progress, and second because the previous neglect of this important topic meant research was badly needed. As Hall (2002:235) said: "capital cities are an important component of the national fabric of almost every country in the world yet, surprisingly, very little has been written about their tourism significance".

National capitals are popular destinations for leisure and cultural tourism, frequently the nation’s transport gateway, and their concentrations of power attract business and educational tourists. They are frequently key nodes in a globalised world, entwined in the world system of cities, yet representing particular national identities. They are of increasing importance, partly because their numbers continue to rise. The era of mass tourism has coincided with earlier decolonisation and the more recent break up of federations and larger state entities (for example USSR and Yugoslavia), increasing the number of nation-states and thus capitals. At the same time the rise of sub-state nationalisms has seen the assertion of national capital status by nations which do not enjoy statehood – for example in Wales (Cardiff), Catalonia (Barcelona) or Quebec. Over time, cities aspire to or acquire national capital status, and must also adapt to changing national roles or to the loss of capital status altogether. Capitals are the symbolic heart of the nation, so as they change, the ways in which they represent themselves to their citizens and the outside world change too. As capitals seek to adapt to global change and contested national identities, they need to negotiate the challenges of updating their appeal to visitors and maintaining their distinctiveness in the face of pressures for standardisation, and of reinterpreting complex histories as they represent themselves to domestic and global audiences. This offers a rich field for tourism research, and for tourism scholars to engage with destination managers and with the other social scientists.

Ashworth G and Page SJ (2011) ‘Urban tourism research: Recent progress and current paradoxes’. Tourism Management 32, 1-15.

Hall CM (2002) ‘Tourism in Capital Cities’ Tourism: an international interdisciplinary journal. 50, 3. 235-248.

Activities

The Group has progressed well, and there are now over 70 members from all around the world. Group meetings are held during ATLAS conferences, and have taken place in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. There will be a meeting at the ATLAS conference in London in 2012, and existing and new members are most welcome.

Research and Publications

The Group has focused on promoting research on tourism in national capitals, and ensuring that high quality research is published. Since 2007, we have fostered the publication of more than 40 papers on the topic.

 2007. Journal Special Issue. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing special issue: ‘Marketing National Capitals’, edited by Robert Maitland and Brent Ritchie

This special issue drew together ten papers on aspects of marketing national capitals of different types in the old and new world. Themes included how visitors perceived capitals and what they had to offer, and the special issue began an exploration of ‘capitalness’, the particular qualities that national capitals offer for tourism.

2010 Book: City Tourism: National Capital Perspectives, edited by Robert Maitland and Brent Ritchie. Wallingford: CABI

This book examines some twenty national capitals around the world, with contributions from more than thirty authors. It is the first book to examine the subject and develops an analytical framework for tourism in national capitals. The analysis distinguishes different types of capital and their varying functions to develop a typology of capital cities from a tourism perspective. It then examines the different aspects of city tourism that are particularly relevant to national capitals, focusing on city image and branding; the visitor experience; tourism markets; and tourism development. These elements are combined in an analytical framework that provides a structure for the detailed discussion in the book, with chapters by SIG members drawing on their original research to develop a wealth of conceptual, methodological and empirical discussion.
 
2012: Journal Special Issue. Current Issues in Tourism. Global Change and Tourism in National Capitals, edited by Robert Maitland

This special issue explores global change and tourism in national capital cities. Globalisation has affected tourism in most cities, but the particular qualities of national capitals mean they are often at the leading edge of change or display it in particularly intense form. At a time of increasing city competition, national capitals are at the forefront of efforts to gain competitive advantage for themselves and their nation, to project a distinctive and positive image and to score well in global city league tables. They are frequently their nation’s focal point and revalorise buildings, spaces and cultural assets to emphasise changing status and negotiate contested identities. Tourism is integral to this process as new national symbols are created, existing sites are reinterpreted and revalorised for visitors, and choices are made about how the nation should be represented to the outside world and to itself. Ten papers explore the nature of capitalness and tourism in national capitals from a variety of perspectives, including comparative studies between cities.

Research Project: National Capitals’ Tourism Representation

This project develops a theme discussed and shaped at SIG meetings. It will focus on:
• How the images of capitals are represented – especially through websites and newer media
• How capital city status plays a part in these images and perceptions
• How far this differs according to the core function or type of capital city

Tourism representation reveals how tensions between capitals’ cosmopolitan and distinct national roles are played out, how new versions of the national story are developed, and how capitalness is contingent on particular national experiences. Yet we have little understanding of how different cities present their ‘capital qualities’ as part of the image they seek to convey to visitors. Examining this will make a valuable initial project. However, looking at the topic comprehensively would be an enormous task since there are multiple representations - for example by public and private agencies; city-wide and districts; whole city and particular events – and a variety of different media and channels.

We expect that initially we will focus on how capital qualities are portrayed through official tourism websites – the national tourism organisation and the city official tourism websites only - in terms of whole city portrayal – i.e. excluding district / precinct / event specific material.

We will discuss the next steps in this project at the London SIG meeting in 2012 and we warmly welcome all ATLAS members to join our discussions.

Planned activities

There will be a SIG meeting at the ATLAS conference Recreating the Global City in London in 2012. The meeting will be during the conference, at 10h30 on Thursday 13th September. Existing and new members are most welcome. Papers by Robert Maitland and Anya Diekmann will review our progress and discuss the representation of national capitals on the Internet. We will then go on to agree next steps on developing the research project.

Research Project: National Capitals’ Tourism Representation. This project develops a theme discussed and shaped at SIG meetings. It will focus on:
• How the images of capitals are represented – especially through websites and newer media
• How capital city status plays a part in these images and perceptions
• How far this differs according to the core function or type of capital city.

Tourism representation reveals how tensions between capitals’ cosmopolitan and distinct national roles are played out, how new versions of the national story are developed, and how capitalness is contingent on particular national experiences. Yet we have little understanding of how different cities present their ‘capital qualities’ as part of the image they seek to convey to visitors. Examining this will make a valuable initial project. However, looking at the topic comprehensively would be an enormous task since there are multiple representations - for example by public and private agencies; city-wide and districts; whole city and particular events – and a variety of different media and channels.

We expect that initially we will focus on how capital qualities are portrayed through official tourism websites – the national tourism organisation and the city official tourism websites only - in terms of whole city portrayal – i.e. excluding district / precinct / event specific material.

We will discuss the next steps in this project at the London SIG meeting in 2012 and we warmly welcome all ATLAS members to join our discussions.

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Annual review of activities 2010

Robert Maitland
University of Westminster, United Kingdom

This Group has progressed well since it was launched at a successful and well attended meeting during the ATLAS annual conference in Portugal in September 2007. There are now over 60 members from around the world. The SIG encompasses city tourism broadly, but for the moment, tourism in national capitals provides a good focus for activities.

Group meetings are held during ATLAS conferences, the most recent at the Aalborg conference in 2009. Another meeting is scheduled for the Cyprus conference in November 2010; existing and new members are most welcome.

The Group’s focus in the past year has been on promoting and publishing research on tourism in national capitals.

Publication
Book: City Tourism: National Capital Perspectives,

This book was published by CABI in 2010. It was edited by SIG Co-ordinators Robert Maitland and Brent Ritchie and examines some twenty national capitals around the world, with contributions from more than thirty authors. It develops an analytical framework for tourism in national capitals and provides the most detailed examination yet of the subject. The analysis distinguishes different types of capital and their varying functions to develop a typology of capital cities from a tourism perspective. It then examines the different aspects of city tourism that are particularly relevant to national capitals, focusing on city image and branding; the visitor experience; tourism markets; and tourism development. These elements are combined in an analytical framework that provides a structure for the detailed discussion in the book, with chapters by SIG members drawing on their original research to develop a wealth of conceptual, methodological and empirical discussion.

Journal Special Issue:
Current Issues in Tourism - Global Change and Tourism in National Capitals

This special issue is edited by Robert Maitland and will explore global change and tourism in national capital cities. Globalisation has affected tourism in most cities, but the particular qualities of national capitals mean they are often at the leading edge of change or display it in particularly intense form. At a time of increasing city competition, national capitals are at the forefront of efforts to gain competitive advantage for themselves and their nation, to project a distinctive and positive image and to score well in global city league tables. Since they are frequently their nation’s focal point and the main tourist gateway, their success is inextricably linked with that of the nation. Capital cities usually boast clusters of culture and heritage attractions that lure leisure visitors, but they are also especially important in other developing and growing tourism sectors - for example, as centres of power they feature strongly in business tourism and as academic centres they are important for educational tourism. And the number of capitals has grown. The era of mass tourism has coincided with earlier decolonisation and more recent dismantling of the USSR, which has increased the number of states and thus capitals. Moreover, pressures for devolution have seen more cities seeking national capital status, even when they are not at the head of independent states – Barcelona is a familiar example. As capitals seek to adapt to global change and contested identities, they need to negotiate the challenges of updating their appeal to visitors and maintaining their distinctiveness in the face of pressures for standardisation and of reinterpreting complex histories as they represent themselves to domestic and global audiences.

There was a pleasingly strong response to the Call for Papers – we hope suggesting that the work of the SIG is succeeding in raising the profile of research in national capital tourism. The special issue will be published in 2011 or 2012.

Research Project: National Capitals’ Tourism Representation

This project develops a theme discussed at previous SIG meetings. Contributions to the book have confirmed its importance. It will focus on:
• How the images of capitals are represented – especially through websites and newer media
• How capital city status plays a part in these images and perceptions
• How far this differs according to the core function or type of capital city.

We have little understanding of how different cities present their ‘capital qualities’ as part of the image they seek to convey to visitors. Examining this will make a valuable initial project. However, looking at the topic comprehensively would be an enormous task since there are multiple representations - for example by public and private agencies; city-wide and districts; whole city and particular events – and a variety of different media and channels.

We have agreed that initially we will focus on how capital qualities are portrayed through official tourism websites – the national tourism organisation and the city official tourism websites only - in terms of whole city portrayal – i.e. excluding district / precinct / event specific material.

We will discuss taking this forward during the Cyprus SIG meeting. This will allow us to add new research projects to our successful publishing initiatives. We welcome all ATLAS members to join our discussions.

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Links To Other Special Interest Groups

There are clearly potential links to existing SIGs - particularly Cultural Tourism SIG (e.g. cultural tourism, precinct development and cultural institutions) and Business Tourism SIG (government lobbying and tourism, conferences in capital cities). We will also try to involve researchers interested in heritage cities (including to examine former capital city tourism). However we see these links as creating complementarities rather than duplication. There are clear and distinct themes around 'capitalness' that the SIG will explore.

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Links To External Groups

  • Capital Alliance Members (include Canberra, Ottawa, Washington, Brasilia and 12 other invited cities which meet yearly)
  • Government Agencies in Capital Cities
  • City Destination Marketing Organisations
  • Council of Europe and European Commission
  • International Cities and Town Centres and Communities Society
  • Embassies and High Commissions in national capital cities
  • Study Associations (including European, Canadian Studies Associations)

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