There goes the neighbourhood. Does gentrification help tourism?
Putting on your best suit.
Cutting your hair.
Polishing your shoes.
Does sprucing yourself up make you a better person?
If you are a city, does turning that dusty second hand clothes shop into a trendy Bagel bar make you a better place to visit?
Well cities around the globe like Miami, Barcelona and Ibiza are banking on that being the case as they lay out the welcome mat for tourists by cleaning up their neighbourhood’s.
This process of gentrification, shifting all aspects of a community from housing to people to culture upwards, isn’t new.
From the 4th century, when citizens in Rome and Ancient Britain replaced small shops with large villas, cities have continually been on this journey of self-improvement.
For the people who live in those communities this can be a difficult and alienating experience, as poorer locals get displaced economically and sometimes the real character of an area gets lost.
But do visitors find everything fine and dandy in these new dandified areas?
Invariably they find a safer area; shorthand for gentrification is ‘an urban area where crime is down and espresso is up’
They find an area full of new locals eager to keep their environment clean and buzzing.
Who have a real curiosity about the unique character of their new home, pouring money into hip areas and local shops, so they prosper and flourish.
They bring their hobbies like cycling, theatre and art and their culinary likes, giving the area a more cosmopolitan feel.
Of course there are some areas that go from ‘shit, but real’ to ‘polished but soulless’.
But if gentrification retains an areas local character but gives it a much-needed facelift, it will be transformed from no-go area to must see destination.
More than enough to make any tourist come back for more.