Global survey measures local perception of city tourism

A global survey conducted by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and IPSOS shows a generally positive picture of local residents’ perceptions towards urban tourism. Younger residents are more likely to be in favour of more restrictive measures to manage increased tourism demand. Medical travel destinations should consider how their healthcare facilities help both local and international patients.

Looking at 15 countries worldwide, the research also identified what residents consider to be the best ways of managing rising numbers of tourists, highlighting differing attitudes to urban tourism among different socio-demographic groups.

The survey aims at a better understanding of residents’ attitudes towards urban tourism. The research is also meant to identify the most valued management strategies to address the emerging challenges that come with increased tourism demand.

To make sure that urban tourism continues to benefit local residents, it is fundamental to implement sustainable policies and practices. This includes the regular monitoring of residents’ attitudes towards tourism and factoring them in the tourism agenda.

Tourism’s impacts are valued most positively in Australia, Argentina, Sweden, the Republic of Korea and Spain. Young people (under 34) exhibit a stronger awareness of both the positive and negative impacts of city tourism, in contrast to older people (over 50) who perceive the negative impacts less. Younger ones are also more likely to be in favour of more restrictive measures to manage increased tourism demand. Among older residents, only 5% think that tourism promotion should be stopped, and only 8% favour limiting the number of visitors in their cities as compared to 12% and 16% of younger ones.

Those who frequently travel to international destinations (twice or more in the last year) are less likely to feel that they live in cities with a high number of tourists when compared to those who do not travel so regularly. The perception of a positive impact of tourism is significantly higher among people who travelled in the past year.

On potential measures to address growing tourism flows in cities, residents across the 15 countries consider improving infrastructures and facilities as the most effective. In Hungary, 89% stressed this measure as the most adequate, followed by Italy (80%) and Argentina (79%).

Creating experiences and attractions that benefit residents as well as visitors is the second most preferred management strategy, and extremely popular in all countries (82% in Canada and Hungary; 75% and 74% in Argentina and Republic of Korea).

The UNWTO/IPSOS Global Survey is based on the IPSOS online omnibus survey conducted between December 2018 and January 2019. The research is based on the responses of 12,000 respondents in 15 countries – Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America.