Urban tourism is living a spectacular boom at a worldwide scale. The arrivals of tourists and their expenses have increased 45% between 2009 and 2015 in the 132 main urban destinations around the world (IMF) and currently it represents 20% of the total amount of international travels made around the world (IPK). However, urban sustainability it is often discussed without taking into consideration Tourism as an integral system of development and promotion of the city.
In a world immerse in an urbanization process, cities have been and are currently the principal engine for economic development and the expression of the wealth of the territories in the past. In this context, it should be recognized its enormous potential for contributing to the human and social welfare and its capacity to agglutinate a rising diversity of immaterial cultural expressions, as well as the necessity of preserving the tangible legacy of its urban landscapes and monuments, being all of them basic attractions of the increasing urban tourism.
Nowadays, more than 50% of world population live in cities, and it is a rising percentage. In this context, emerges the necessity of tackling the key factors of sustainable tourism in urban areas, its contribution to global sustainability and to the new governance of the cities.
Cities are currently facing a double challenge with the growth trend in urban tourism. On the one hand, they should be able to answer to the expectations and necessities of a rising number of tourists attracted for its rich and varied offer. On the other hand, it should be assured that tourism is developed and managed in a way on which it benefits local population, avoiding to contribute to the deterioration of the urban environment, and even improving it. Also, it should be assured that tourism has a positive effect in the life quality of local population and that it does not mean a financial burden for local authorities.
Cities represent a priority area of application of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals