WIT Press

Driving functions for urban sustainability: the double-edged nature of urban tourism


Free (open access)


Volume 12 (2017), Issue 3



Page Range

425 - 434

Paper DOI



WIT Press




Our concept of urban sustainability is changing along with our evolving modern society. It is related to a number of factors that have an impact on our current understanding of the concept of an urban system. Referring to a systemic approach to understanding the urban system, we can consider urban sustainability as the opposite of urban entropy, which represents both the “dark side of the urban system” and the negative component of each urban subsystem. Within these subsystems, we can identify some driving functions that play an important role in urban sustainability. Nevertheless, when these functions exceed the threshold of urban load, urban entropy increases exponentially. Starting with the very recent changes in urban entropy (as well as urban sustainability) and by assuming that the negative components of the urban system are connected to urban risks, two types of urban entropies can be defined: endogenous and exogenous. The first relates to internal conditions of urban subsystems which unplanned urban management can generate. The second one relates to external causes: natural and anthropic. Within this framework, tourism can be considered as one of the urban functions affecting the organizational process of an urban system. Tourism depends on internal factors and grows by generating exogenous flows. In many cases, tourism plays a fundamental role in an urban economy and it acts as a strategic factor for urban competitiveness. When tourism exceeds urban capacity, it causes urban malfunctions. In this sense, tourism is one of the most sensitive urban functions regarding the process of entropy. Using the systemic approach as a theoretical reference, this paper states that tourism can act as a driving function able to shift the urban system towards sustainable condition if it is integrated into the process of town planning.


systemic approach, tourist city, urban entropy, urban tourism