Urban Regeneration and (over) tourism in China: Exploring Alternative Tracks in Suzhou’s Historic Centre
The booming development of cultural tourism in China has a significant impact on historic cities. While offering favorable opportunities for urban regeneration, tourism also poses a direct threat to the quality of life and the authenticity of urban cultures. This paper takes the historic center of Suzhou as an illustrative case to explore how alternative, spatially decentralized and timedistributed forms of tourism can contribute to the long-term and sustainable regeneration of historic cities and benefit local communities. Through conducting a design investigation of Suzhou, this research explores in particular the role of urban planning and design in aligning tourism development and urban regeneration agendas. The exploration reveals that, as opposed to exclusive and reductive city branding practice, a diversification of the tourism offer can multiply the distinctive identities of Suzhou’s historic city and contribute to its regeneration. It also advocates the potential role of urban design as an instrument of exploration and mediation in heritage-led regeneration projects in China.
Cultural Tourism, Urban Regeneration, Urban Design, China