International Symposium | SOUNDS OF TOURISM
Celebrated as World’s Leading City Destination and World’s Leading City Break Destination in the World Travel Awards 2018, Lisbon has demonstrated once again its appeal as an international tourist destination. The tourism boom of the Portuguese capital city is reflected not only in soaring numbers of pernoctations and proliferation of hotel units and short-term rental apartments, but also in the competition between visitors and residents for local resources such as housing, transport and leisure spaces. Overtourism has put Lisbon buckling under pressure, fuelling a growing local discontent. The flows of capital into the real estate market combined with the constant pressure of the tourism sector over the local economy and ways of life has turned the historic neighbourhoods into places oriented for tourist consumption, pushing many residents out and transforming the socio-cultural fabric of these central areas of the city. As some critical voices have argued, “[The city] of Lisbon is losing its soul”. These changes can also be perceived at the level of the sound environment. The refashioning of Lisbon’s urban spaces for tourist consumption has reshaped the sound environment in significant ways as well. New sounds have been introduced into the everyday soundscapes, whereas other distinctive soundmarks have changed or disappeared. Certain music genres and musical sounds are amplified, promoted and used as commodities in city branding strategies (Bottà 2008), whereas others remained muted. If sound can be considered as a means of “exploring the more ephemeral and shifting elements of urbanism” (Atkinson 2007: 1905), namely those qualities of the environment that give urban places their unique and distinctive character (Degen 2008, Thibaud 2011), how that vanishing soul of Lisbon might sound like? This kick-off international symposium of the research project “Sounds of Tourism” takes the touristification of historic Lisbon neighbourhoods as an excuse to engage in broader discussions about the role of sound and music in the cultural and sensory restructuring of touristified urban spaces. How sound participates in creating and/or resisting these new urban ambiances for tourist consumption? How sound could generate new ways of analysing, understanding and transforming the urban space? The symposium will bring together scholars from the fields of tourism, music and sound studies working in Lisbon and elsewhere to reflect through keynote lectures and round tables on the impact of tourism on the everyday urban public ambiances of the post-industrial city, with a particular focus on the sonic ambiance.