The Rise of Tourism in Sunny Lisbon

The Rise of Tourism in Sunny Lisbon (Portugal) and Touristification

By: Filipa Fernandes

Centro de Administração e Políticas Públicas, Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Universidade de Lisboa


Tourism in the city of Lisbon (capital city of Portugal) has been growing in recent years. In 2016 the number of tourists exceeded the 6 million mark, representing a 29.9% of total demand in the country. In 2016 it was ranked the 61st most visited city in the world and one of the Fastest-Growing Destination Cities in Europe (7.4%). The growing popularity of the Portuguese capital is shown in a number of recognitions given by the World Travel Awards since 2009. The proliferation of short-breaks and the increase in the number of low-cost flights through Lisbon Airport have been pointed out as factors for the increase of tourism in the Portuguese capital.

Photo by F. Fernandes. Tourists in Lisbon, Portugal.

Tourism is central to local economies, contributing to the creation of jobs and the emergence of new opportunities. In some cities tourism is the main economic activity and the only source for the economic development of that locality (Van der Borg, Costa and Gotti, 1996). However, there are cities affected by the pressure of the tourism sector, in which conflicts arise between residents and stakeholders. Across Europe there are echoes of overtourism, tourismphobia, and gentrification. Some talk of fighting tourism for the possible consequences it has on the real estate market. Mass tourism modifies the relationship between hosts and guests. This pressure of tourism is evidenced in urban centers by the availability of accommodation offered through new platforms associated with shared economies (Gutiérrez et al, 2017).

Tourism also contributes to changes in city spaces. Through this process, commonly known as touristification, tourism interacts with the territories; bringing about transformations in social, cultural, economic, political, physical and environmental contexts; introducing new objects (accommodation, leisure facilities, leisure, catering, etc.) and taking possession of objects already present, giving them new meanings.

Research in progress

Currently I’m conducting an ongoing research project that aims to analyze the processes of transformation of places in Lisbon. With the increasing abundance of tourist territories, it is essential to analyze the processes, dynamics and actors involved in tourism processes.

My main goals are: identify the actors and analyze the processes and dynamics of tourism; understand the forms of interaction between hosts and guests and the new hospitality; identify and examine the forms of hospitality and shared economies; and finally, examine which global discourses are produced locally.

My ongoing fieldwork in Lisbon (in particular, in Alfama and Bairro do Castelo) makes use of qualitative methodology: mainly ethnography, bibliographic research and content analysis (media articles, Airbnb platform, tourism websites and tourist booking portals). I intend to show how tourism contributes to the processes of transformation and co-production of places. The emphasis will be placed on the influence of the local population, government agents and other players in tourism development processes.

Some findings

The increase of the tourist hordes in the city has contributed to changes in housing and in businesses. Residents leave some neighborhoods due to high rents. Locals cannot rent a house, given the very high rents that are charged by landlords.

Those who stay are all elderly people, when they die the houses are remodeled and sold, giving rise to hotels, hostels, rooms for rent.” (woman, resident in Bairro do Castelo).

With external investments new and renewed spaces are built to accommodate tourists. An example is the Lusitano Club, a collective founded in 1905 that closed its doors this year and was replaced by luxury apartments.

I lived there for about 30 years, we were put on the street because the building was sold for tourism. I come to Alfama every day. My sister and I clean the apartments in the building where we used to live. One day we will have only tourists in the neighborhood! “(Woman, 50-60 years, April 26, 2017).

This daily movement of people brings with it concerns on the part of some residents about the appropriation of the neighborhood. As one woman said “one of these days they come here and it will be only tourists; tourists to see tourists “(50-60 years, April 26, 2017).

Photo by F. Fernandes. “Save Lisbon and its people from mass tourism”

In some cases residents complain about the noise.

Over where I live everything is rented to tourists and there is always a lot of noise with the suitcases when entering and leaving the house, several times the threatening ones that called the police, “(woman, resident in Bairro do Castelo).

The process of touristification taking place in Lisbon has changed urban spaces. In Alfama, the boom in tourism has led to the abandonment of residents of the neighborhood, which has lost its character, according to some residents. The introduction of the new rent and lease Law has complicated the lives of some residents who have been forced to move to other places and some residential spaces have been used for tourism purposes.

These new paradigms of hospitality have advantages, above all, in the rehabilitation of homes and local commerce. As one woman asserted, “tourism is good for the economy, for the neighborhood” (Souvenir shop / Art gallery, woman).

Nowadays there are new collaborative forms of travel, Airbnb being one example, and there is a place for the development of tourism whose prominent role goes to the local communities. In the post-tourist world the place is co-constructed by the multiple actors present in the heart of the tourist destinations. The experiences break the formal models, witnessing relationships outside the usual tourism circuit. One observes how the ‘local’ comes to be seen and desired as authentic by many. The seduction of these spaces involves the possibility of experiencing a part of everyday life at the heart of local communities. However, this growing demand has led to negative consequences, distancing local inhabitants from these spaces and contributing greatly to the phenomenon of gentrification.

Photo by F. Fernandes. Tourists respond to the seduction of the space.
  • Gutiérrez, J., García-Palomares., J. C., Romanillos, G., Salas-Olmedo, M. H., 2017, The eruption of Airbnb in tourist cities: Comparing spatial patterns of hotels and peer-to-peer accommodation in Barcelona, Tourism Management, 62:278-291.
  • Van der Borg, J., Costa, P., Gotti, G., 1996, Tourism in European heritage cities, Annals of Tourism Research, 23:2, 306-321.

About ATIG Web Content

The Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group is proud to showcase social scientific and humanistic research related to tourism, broadly conceived. Our goal is to prompt conversations about how anthropological approaches to tourism have developed over time, what research is being done right now, and what lies on the horizon. We aim to spark discussions among veteran scholars and newcomers to the field, and we hope to draw diverse others into our conversations.

With these objectives in mind, we encourage all readers to respond to web features as they are posted and we invite you to submit your own content features.

How Can I Contribute?

To contribute, simply contact the ATIG Web Content Editor, Joe Quick, at [email protected].

Each contribution to the website will be posted in one of the following categories. We intend these categories to help us organize materials, not to constrain your contributions, so please interpret their scope generously as you consider your own contributions.

Letters from the Field

Tell us a story from your research. Was there a tourism-related event that really caught your eye? An issue that people should know about? A person you find particularly interesting? You don’t need a profound argument, just a good story. Photo essays are particularly welcome in this category.

Research Updates

Tell us what you’re working on right now. You don’t need to have all the answers yet. In this category, we’re more interested in what sort of questions you’re asking about tourism and what approaches you’re using to try to answer those questions.

Publication Updates

Tell us about your recently published article or  book. Tell us where to find your publication and what it’s all about. We’re especially interested in how your publication builds on your previous research, how it sets the stage for a new project, or how it engages with emerging trends in the anthropology of tourism.

Conference Reports

Tell us about a conference panel that you have recently attended or participated in. Explain the overall theme of the panel and identify how the included papers contribute to the anthropology of tourism. This feature is particularly well suited to panel chairs and/or respondents.

Book Reviews

Review one or more books related to the anthropology of tourism, broadly conceived. Summarize and critique the book(s) contributions to the social scientific and/or humanistic understanding of tourism and related issues. Within this category, we encourage two distinct styles of review: (1) reviews of recently-published books that advance current conversations and concerns in the discipline of anthropology, and (2) retrospective reviews that look back at the impact of books that have influenced the trajectory of the discipline over time.


Sit down with someone who has had an impact on your research related to the anthropology of tourism. Have a conversation about that person’s research and career trajectories. We’ll help you edit the transcript and share it with other researchers. We especially encourage students and early career scholars to interview their own advisors and mentors.

Current Events

Share your perspectives about ongoing issues or events related to the anthropology of tourism. This category is best suited for the kinds of commentaries that are too big or too important for a post on social media but too urgent or too fleeting for the slow pace of publication in a peer-reviewed venue. Think of this category as the op-ed page of a newspaper.

Call for Nominations for ATIG’s First Annual Book Prize

The Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group is excited to announce our new book prize. There are two separate prizes: 1) A prize for an author’s first book, 2) A prize for an author’s second or subsequent book. We are accepting nominations for our first annual book prize in both categories. All books must have been published January 2016 to the present to be considered this year. Please submit the name of the author, the book to be considered, the publisher information to [email protected] and indicate which prize (1st or subsequent publication). Please submit all nominations by March 2nd. Self-nominations are also welcome. Winners of the book prize will be announced at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings in San Jose, California, 2018.

CFP: ATIG’s sponsored session for 2018 AAAs in San Jose

Call for Proposals for ATIG Invited Panel at AAA 2018 Meeting

The American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group (ATIG) is soliciting proposals for the ATIG-sponsored session (an “invited panel”) to be held during the 117th AAA Meetings in San Jose, California from November 14-18, 2018.

Prospective Invited Panel proposals should prioritize the use of tourism as an analytical framework or object of analysis, and should contribute to the anthropology of tourism, broadly conceived.  Panels that focus on the critical examination of the 2018 meeting’s theme, “Change in the Anthropological Imagination: Resistance, Resilience, and Adaptation” are especially welcome, but panels conceptualized around other questions will also be considered.

Proposals to ATIG should be for complete panels.  As per AAA requirements, panels include 7 15-minute slots, which may be used for either paper presentations or discussants.  We encourage ATIG members to use the listserv and Facebook page to seek colleagues interested in presenting on related topics.

ATIG Deadline for proposal submission: Friday, March 23, 2018

Final deadline to submit panels to the AAA is April 16, 2018.

Proposals Must Include:

  1. Title and Abstract of proposed session
  2. Names of Session organizer(s), affiliation, contact email(s), and phone
  3. List of Papers, including titles, abstracts, author names and affiliations

Please direct any questions, and submit panel proposals, to Clare A. Sammells, ATIG Program Chair, [email protected]




Term: March 1, 2017 through December 2020

Members of the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group (via AAA membership) are invited to submit self-nominations for the office of Communications Chair. The position is to be filled immediately, upon election by the membership.

The Communications Chair is responsible for managing ATIG’s website (, Facebook group, and listserv. Duties are fairly continuous throughout the year, including the summer. The Communications Chair plays a vital role in the organization by disseminating information to the ATIG membership and maintaining communication with the AAA. Routine duties include:

  • Moderating the ATIG listserv
  • Managing the Facebook group and Twitter account
  • Updating the ATIG website as needed and working with ATIG members who are developing original content related to the anthropology of tourism

Interested parties should have strong communication skills and enjoy sharing information across social media. Basic web skills and a familiarity with WordPress will be very helpful, as will prior experience of any kind with publicity/outreach. Advanced graduate students are welcome.

To self-nominate, please email ATIG Convener Michael Di Giovine ([email protected]):

  • Short letter of interest—including a statement of the candidate’s relevant background, interests, familiarity with the anthropology of tourism, web skills, and any other experience with publicity/outreach
  • A current CV
  • Complete contact information

Candidates will be reviewed by the ATIG Board, which will then put a slate of nominees to the full membership for a vote.

The position will begin on March 1, 2018.

Deadline for Nominations:

January 15, 2017