Spatial Conceptualization of the Urban Tourist Bubble: Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina in Transition

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Title: Spatial Conceptualization of the Urban Tourist Bubble: Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina in Transition
Author: Bosley, Holly Elizabeth
Advisors: Dr. Gene Brothers, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Karla Henderson, Committee Member
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, Committee Member
Dr. Larry Gustke, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: Both tourism researchers and urban planners have used the term "tourist bubble" to describe a geographic area planned and managed for tourists within a destination. Despite their semantic intersection, there has been little collaboration between tourism and urban planning scholars. In professional practice, a similar disconnect exists between tourism professionals, whose primary responsibility is place promotion, and urban planners who often focus on the development of the place product. The purpose of this study was to design a standardized method for mapping the urban tourist bubble as perceived by tourism and urban planning professionals. A secondary objective of this study was to identify commonalities and disparities between tourism and urban planning professionals' perceptions of the urban tourist bubble. Understanding the urban tourist bubble is important because individuals representing both of these professions influence policy decisions that affect the urban experience for visitors as well as residents. A new methodology was developed for mapping the urban tourist bubble. Structured personal interviews were conducted with tourism professionals and urban planners to better understand these two stakeholder groups' perceptions of the urban tourist bubble in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. The urban tourist bubble, defined as a distinct geographic area planned and managed for tourists, was then mapped based on respondents' perceptions of the most-visited tourist attractions in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as perceptions of the perimeter of downtown. This new mapping technique highlighted the commonalities and disparities between tourism and urban planning professionals' perceptions of tourism activity in a downtown area. From the data, this study reconceptualized downtown Raleigh as an interconnected set of tourist experience zones, defined by the associations among their contents, instead of a business improvement district of five downtown districts with artificial parameters. This new conceptual framework offers a more functional perspective of downtown, rather than one that is artificial or prefabricated.
Date: 2009-04-23
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4499


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