Prague, Tourism and the Post-Industrial City GCP-09-05

Lily M. Hoffman and Jiri Musil

The views expressed in this report represent those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Great Cities Institute or the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Although urban tourism has been one of the important forces shaping cities during the past few decades, most studies on the transition from the industrial to the post-industrial city focus on the shift to financial and professional services. There are still few studies of the role of tourism in the transformation of urban political economy, social structure and culture (Hoffman, Fainstein, Judd, Cities and Visitors, Blackwell 2003). In an earlier article on post-communist Prague, we examined the emergence of tourism as a byproduct of democratization and marketization (Hoffman and Musil in The Tourist City, Judd & Fainstein (eds) Yale U Press 1999). This present article takes a broader more contextual view of the role of tourism in the development of contemporary Prague. Looking beyond tourism per se, we argue that the exponential growth of tourism in post 1989 Prague helps explain its relatively smooth (and rapid) transition from industrial to post-industrial or service center city. The specifics of this case address some of the lacunae in the discussion of transition from industrialization. First, much of the ‘de-industrialization’ literature refers primarily to industrial cities. Many cities however, are mixed. Second, there is little or no discussion of the role of tourism in the transition. Third, where tourism is discussed, it is usually, as an urban development stratagem; here it has emerged spontaneously. Fourth, by taking a developmental perspective, we hope to provide a more analytic account of tourism’s impact on social and spatial structure–both regulatory and representational aspects.

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