Tourism planning and place making: place-making or placemaking?

Alan A. Lew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Scopus citations


Tourism destination planning and marketing are fundamentally place making actions intended to shape the image and imageability of a place. Place making is an innate human behavior, ranging from the organic and unplanned actions of individuals, defined here as ‘place-making,’ to planned and intentional global theming by governments and tourism authorities, defined here as ‘placemaking.’ Place-making and placemaking are ends on a continuum of options, with most places have a mix of local and global elements. These elements also range from the tangible (base in urban design) to the intangible (peoplescapes and imaginations). The tools of place making are essentially the same for both organic place-making and planned placemaking, but the intentions and outcomes can vary enormously. Tourism development, as an economic activity, almost always has a neoliberal planned placemaking agenda. Organic place-making emerges through individual agency, which if allowed to proceed, will make its imprint even in a heavily master planned tourism landscape. An understanding of place-making and placemaking gives insight into research questions on the political economy of tourism and the roles of hosts and guest in co-producing tourism places. Examining the elements of place making in a tourism landscape can more clearly identify how different worldview perspectives have contribute over time to the making of tourism places, and thereby assist in planning for the future development of destination communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-466
Number of pages19
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 27 2017


  • Place-making
  • authenticity
  • co-production
  • gentrification
  • marketing
  • place
  • placemaking
  • planning
  • tourism planning
  • urban design
  • worldviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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