In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Touristification

  • Introduction
  • The First Mentions of the Term Touristification
  • Urban Studies and Critical Approaches
  • Touristification in Cities and Historic Centers
  • New Fronts of Urban Touristification
  • Touristification of Non-urban Areas
  • Compendia and Works of General Reflection

Geography Touristification
María García Hernández, Manuel de la Calle-Vaquero
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0278


The term touristification refers to the process of transformation of a place into a tourist space and its associated effects. This transformation operates at the level of both tourist attraction and destination. It implies an adaptation of the place to the visitor and to the interests of the tourism sector. The effects of the transformation process can be positive or negative, and they have a multidimensional character (environmental, landscape, economic, social, or cultural). In contrast to this broad and somewhat neutral meaning, the term has recently become popular with a much more limited meaning and negative connotations. In this sense, there are frequent works that refer to touristification as a process that particularly affects cities and deteriorates the living conditions of their inhabitants. According to this critical perspective, touristification is configured as a process of territorial specialization in the tourist function whose negative impacts far outweigh the positive ones. The academic production on touristification is extensive, although most of the contributions date from after the year 2000. Perhaps for this reason there is still a certain indeterminacy in the use of the term, often associated with other expressions, such as overtourism and tourist gentrification. This article includes chiefly research articles and, to a lesser extent, similar academic formats, which include the term touristification in the title, keywords, or abstract. The references included in this work have been organized in six sections according to their thematic orientation. The first includes the initial references to the term, with a notable predominance of tourism geography of French origin or influence. The second comprises a series of works relating to gentrification and touristification. These papers focus particularly on cities and urban centers and mostly adopt a critical approach. The third section focuses on different case studies on cities, with a special emphasis on southern European cities. The fourth section presents papers that examine in depth some vectors of touristification and associated processes, such as heritagization, urban regeneration, airbnbization, foodification, and tourism-phobia. The fifth section focuses on the new forms of touristification in reference to the urban areas over which the process is advancing. The next section includes references to works on touristification in non-urban areas, such as coastal destinations and rural territories. Finally, a series of references are included that address the subject from a general perspective due to their subject matter or their composition in the form of compendia or special issues of journals.

The First Mentions of the Term Touristification

Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when the concept of touristification was “invented,” in general terms the word began to appear in academic literature in the 1980s. Some recent work on touristification traces the term back to its origins (see Ojeda and Kieffer 2020 [cited under Compendia and Works of General Reflection] and Kowalczyk-Anioł 2020 [cited under Airbnbization]). Originally, it referred to the processes of transformation induced by tourism in different types of territories and/or societies. In the field of geography, it was extended in relation to the formal and functional changes produced by tourism at different scales, sometimes alluding to processes of tourist activation (mise en tourisme) and in other cases to processes triggered by the intensification of tourist activity. In the guest editorial of the first issue of the journal Tourism Geographies Jansen-Verbeke and Dewailly 1999, the authors reflect on the relationship between geography and tourismification, a lexical variant of the term touristification, less frequent, but also used by other authors with the same meaning (see Salazar 2009 [cited under Touristification of Non-urban Areas] and Liu 2015 [cited under Compendia and Works of General Reflection]). In a context of concern for tourism sustainability, the authors of this editorial refer to the need to create a theoretical framework of disciplinary knowledge about the processes of change induced by tourism. Among French geographers, the author of Knafou 1996 also refers in his work to the concept of touristification, which for him is linked both to the tourist activation of new territories and to the evolution of already touristic territories, focusing on coastal areas. For Jansen-Verbeke 1998, the tourismification of historical cities is related to the inclusion of tourism in the urban system and the changes that this brings about on a formal and functional level. In other types of spaces Dziegieć 1995 speaks of touristification in relation to landscape and settlement changes induced by tourist urbanization in rural areas, and Young 1983 treats the process of touristification associated with landscape changes in traditional fishing-farming villages. Sociologists and anthropologists also began to include the term in their works. Picard 1992, based on fieldwork carried out since the 1970s in Bali, introduced the term early on in discussing the touristification of Balinese identity. Lanfant 1994 reflects on the nature of the mutations produced by tourism in its relationship with local heritage, namely, how tourism changes the meaning of heritage and the values attributed to it.

  • Dziegieć, Elżbieta. “Urbanizacja turystyczna terenów wiejskich w Polsce.” Turyzm/Tourism 5.1 (1995): 5–56.

    DOI: 10.18778/0867–5856.5.1.01

    In Polish. This article defines the concept of urbanization of tourism, its characteristics, and the criteria by which it is identified. The author investigates the mechanism that determines the process of tourist urbanization from the study of the phases and regional differences observed in Poland. She identifies the growth of tourist urbanization with touristification in relation to the impact that tourism has on the transformation of a rural population.

  • Jansen-Verbeke, Myriam. “Tourismification of Historical Cities.” Annals of Tourism Research 25.4 (1998): 739–742.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0160–7383(98)00015–2

    The author of this research note considers how to manage the tourismification process in historical cities. Tourismification is understood as the way in which tourism is or is becoming part of the urban system, an act of standardization affecting the historical city as a whole. Tourism activities can make a city or an urban district, in form and function; they takes over, change the original forms, and modify the traditional functional mix in the city. Available online by purchase or subscription.

  • Jansen-Verbeke, Myriam, and Jean-Michel Dewailly. “Guest Editorial: Geography and Tourismification.” Tourism Geographies 1.1 (1999): 3–6.

    DOI: 10.1080/14616689908721290

    This guest editorial of the first issue of the Journal Tourism Geographies deals with the relationship between geography and tourismification in the context of concern for tourism sustainability. The authors point out as an important issue for geography the challenge of building a theoretical framework of knowledge that includes and explains the spatial processes of change induced by tourism activities. Available online by purchase or subscription.

  • Knafou, Rémy. “Introduction: La transformation des lieux anciennement touristiques.” Méditerranée 84.3 (1996): 3–4.

    DOI: 10.3406/medit.1996.2916

    The author talks about touristification in the context of the transformations of destinations that were already very touristy. He considers that the concept had become one of the major research topics in the field of tourism in the 1990s. This topic can be approached from two different points: on the one hand, the “tourist activation” (mise en tourisme) of non-tourist places; on the other hand, the specific modes of evolution of already existing tourist destinations.

  • Lanfant, M.-F. “Identité, mémoire, patrimoine et la ‘touristification’ de nos sociétés.” Sociétés 46 (1994): 433–439.

    In this text, the author associates touristification with the processes of change that affect heritage and local identity. It is a text widely cited by later authors who address the issue of touristification. The text is based on the premise that local societies confronted with international tourism transform their values, sometimes reinforcing the identity meanings that define them. This fact greatly affects the local cultural heritage. Available online by subscription.

  • Picard, Michel. “L’identité balinaise à l’épreuve: Colonisation, intégration nationale et touristification.” In Le tourisme international entre tradition et modernité: International Tourism between Tradition and Modernity; Colloque international, Nice, 19–21 novembre 1992. Edited by Jean-Pierre Jardel, 155–176. Nice, France: Laboratoire d’Ethnologie, Université de Nice, 1992.

    In the context of his work on Balinese culture, Picard analyzes the interaction between touristification and Indonesianization, legible in the discourse of cultural tourism in Bali. The author reflects on how the development of tourism on the island has had social impacts and has generated a process of touristification of the identity of the Balinese who, as active subjects of the host-tourist relationship, build representations of their culture for foreign tourists. Part of the text is available online.

  • Young, Bruce. “Touristization of Traditional Maltese Fishing-Farming Villages: A General Model.” Tourism Management 4.1 (1983): 35–41.

    DOI: 10.1016/0261–5177(83)90048–1

    The paper focuses on the impact of tourism development on the landscape of the village and presents a general model of the process of touristization understood as landscape change. The model and accompanying discussion seeks to synthesize knowledge and understanding of change in the village as it is metamorphosed by tourism. Available online by purchase or subscription.

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