A brief by Elise Baudelet, junior expert in territorial marketing at the CAAC
Cities around the world are competing because their external environment leads them, whether they like it or not, to enter the competition, driven by several reasons, among them:
- Globalization: obviously, the world has become flatter, borders are easier to cross and prices for travelling have decreased, and so people can come and go from one place to another. Therefore places compete to attract citizens and tourists from across the world and have to find great arguments.
- Private sector competition: Companies compete on multiple levels and so the place they are established in is crucial. On the one hand the facilities provided by the place could give them a competitive advantage such as workforce costs or talents, taxes, transport facilities. In the other hand the place image and awareness could benefit a company. Indeed, the origin and the “made in…” label are significant and give credit to a product. To be competitive a company needs a place that fits its strategy. As a city benefits from a company image and its revenues, places need to compete in order to attract and retain companies.
- Tourism, for numerous cities, is one of the major incomes. Due to the boost of competition, destinations have to be proactive in order to continuously attract tourists. Thus if a city wants to assure these revenues, even if it was not competition-oriented, it has to establish a strategic plan to stand in its ground.
- City development: the rivalry pushes cities to improve. If it is done carefully, in partnership with local actors, creating a better city to live, work or visit benefits all.
Therefore, even if cities compete (against their will in some cases), it is not negative. Challenge helps to expand creativeness in order to overcome limits and to improve. In this sense, places are striving to progress and enhance themselves. Moreover, this competition doesn’t avoid places to develop cooperation through European projects (eg: ATBrand, TONETA), partnerships (eg: city co-branding), or networking (eg: CAAC). Consequently, cities competition may be more about coopetition than real rivalry.