The Rotterdam Way: A New Take on Urban Tourism Management

Shirley Nieuwland, E Versloot, E van der Zee

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


While most of the popular urban tourism destination of North-Western Europe are famed for their historic city centres, a growing number of destinations, like Rotterdam, challenge the conditionality of having a picturesque historic centre for being a successful tourist destination. The city of Rotterdam is currently the second largest urban tourism destination in the Netherlands, considering nights spent by tourists. While Amsterdam hosts considerably more tourists, Rotterdam's tourism statistics are striking through the constant and significant growth the city has witnessed since the financial crisis, with a staggering 73% growth in nights spent between 2012 and 2018 (CBS, 2019). The city is witnessing a transformation from an industrial port city hosting a limited number of visitors into a visitor city with a port, shaped by its industrial past as well as a significant scar left by carpet bombings during World War II which has led Rotterdam to develop itself as a modern city. Like in other former industrial cities, the visitor economy played an important part in the transformation of Rotterdam. While just decades ago the city was mostly shunned because it was described as rough, edgy and even boring (Kasteleijn & Maas, 1995), present day visitors fame the diverse and iconic architecture, as well as the creative and vibrant atmosphere in which the roughness and edginess actually seem to work in Rotterdam's favour. Rotterdam made it into Lonely Planet's 'best in travel list' of 2016 and is famed in the international media as a 'must-visit destination'. Rotterdam now faces a myriad of challenges, while working towards an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable urban future. Empowering marginal socio-economic groups, creating opportunities for local businesses and start-ups as well as dealing with the consequences of post by climate change are among these challenges. And even though Rotterdam is not nearly at the tourism level of such cities, the rapid growth in overnight stays during the past six years is a reason to create a proactive strategy in which the challenges posed by growing tourism in combination with the broader challenges the city faces are addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Agenda for Urban Tourism
EditorsJ. van der Borg
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781789907407
ISBN (Print)9781789907391
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2022

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