Take a look at this recent article in the Independent, which identified Lausanne as the best small city in the world.
Credit to Unsplash & Remi Moebs for this image of Lausanne.
The appeal of small accessible cities in the age of airbnb is undeniable, add in greater flexibility of leisure time for many people, cheap air travel and it is easy to understand why this type of city has become popular for short stay vacations. However, with popularity there is a price to pay for the locals. Increased tourism brings in additional revenue but may lead to a sharp increase in property prices, reduced accessibility to reasonable rented accommodation, and a sense that locals are being displaced from the services of their own cities.
Here in Spain, I have witnessed the boom in tourism that San Sebastián (nº 17 on the list) has enjoyed in recent years. This growth was due in part from the “peace dividend” gained by the end of ETA´s campaign of violence, but it has also been subject to the “airbnb” effect which, in an area which has historically been one of the most expensive in Spain, has put further pressure on the ability of young people to rent in the centre of the city. The increase in the number of bars and restaurants also brings with it issues of cohabitation as late night revellers spoil the sleep of residents who need to get up early for work in the morning.
As is often the case, the legislators usually arrive on the scene after the initial damage has been done, with the consequence that new laws are either ineffective, or too draconian and end up also removing the benefits that the influx of tourists brought with them.
There are no easy solutions to these issues, and the residents and administrators of cities such as Lausanne, San Sebastian and Bath will need to adjust and adapt to their new circumstances. It will be interesting to see who tops the list in 5 years time.