WIT Press

Tourism In The Rust Belt: Using The Past As An Economic Development Strategy


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WIT Press


J. Eyles


Tourism is seen as a major strategy for urban renewal in many cities in North America, particularly in those places in which there has been significant industrial downsizing. Changing leisure patterns in such cities have exacerbated the problem of the downtown core. Not only have many aspects of the culture of consumption fled the downtown but also so have many office and warehousing functions. Faced with these problems – but with an outgoing commitment for the viability and sustainability of the core – many cities have made significant investments in landscaping, policing and financial instruments. However, many of the rust belt cities have not been revived. Using case studies from the American mid-west and southern Ontario, the possibilities of sustainable urban futures through tourist investments will be assessed. The asset base as well as the financial and political climate will be seen as key. It may be concluded that except for a few places, sustainable success will be illusory. Keywords: deindustrialisation, tourism, sustainability, Hamilton, Canada. 1 Introduction Many manufacturing cities in the eastern part of North America have seen tremendous declines in industrial presence and therefore employment opportunities over the last 25 years or so. For example, Hamilton, renowned as a steel manufacturing centre in Ontario, has seen job numbers in steel decline some 600 percent to just over 4000 people. In fact, since the 1980s, Hamilton has a ‘job deficit’ with an increasing number of people leaving the city for work with fewer commuting in from other municipalities [1]. Hamilton, like other cities in the so-called rust belt has responded in a variety of ways to try to ensure continued investment, employment opportunities and residential interest. One of


deindustrialisation, tourism, sustainability, Hamilton, Canada.