Student Communities and Landscapes of Creativity: How Venice ’The World’s Most Touristed City’ is Changing
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:Development | Economics
Faced with global pressures and intensifying competition, `growth coalitions’ in European cities respond with the construction of iconic consumption landscapes. In many cases, such efforts are questionable because they abide by unimaginative, mainstream planning concepts, resulting in an erosion of the idiosyncratic qualities of urban landscapes. The serial reproduction of cityscapes also extends to tourism development strategies, which fail to meet the increasing demand expressed by travellers for genuine and creative experiences. However, the `knowledge city’ is populated with new actors producing alternative images and brands.Among these, academic and student communities are emerging as significant agents of urban regeneration. This article discusses the potential role students play as generators of landscapes of creativity, which develop as appealing spaces for cultural consumers, including `new cultural tourists’.The fluid,glocal geography of student activity may well be the epicentre of change for destinations now basing their product on an unreflexive relation between gazers and place,towards a more sustainable engagement of visitors in creative production and consumption. However, this process presents substantial challenges for policy and may be short-lived. Illustrations are provided from the case of Venice, Italy, a paradigmatic mass tourism destination where student-related activities are breathing new life into a clichéd tourism product.