During 1970s, the de-industrialization in many western countries caused large unemployment and decay of industrial cities. Accordingly, as an urban revitalization strategy, tourism was initiated in many urban historical quarters to revitalize the economy and to improve the decaying city image. Many de-industrialized cities witnessed the rise of place marketing-led tourism in historical quarters. Many quarters have removed and replaced the existing residents and original functions which were thought to convey negative images. Meanwhile, new images and attractions, including museums, crafts, arts, cultural heritage, and festivals have been introduced in these empty physical fabrics to attract investors and tourists.
More recently, the strategy of tourism development tends to be closely related with other urban planning strategies, especially in historical quarters’ revitalization process, which usually link tourism with other development strategies such as cultural industry and creative industry (Tiesdell et al., 1996, Cunningham, 2002) to transform these quarters into cultural hubs or creative dismissions (Roodhouse, 2010), aiming to attract not only tourists but also local people, enhance the quarters’ cultural ambience, and promote local cultural production consumption without emptying all the residents and functions.
In recent decades, many Chinese cities have experienced huge urban changes. With many urban historical quarters being demolished to gain development profits and new city image, many old neighbourhoods collapsed with their residents relocated to frontier areas. This paper conducts a comparative study on recent creative hub initiated by Shanghai government—Tianzi Fang and the Xi’an Muslim Quarter. It analyzes the recycling mode, the everyday life , the experience of uniqueness, and social network based on the two cases. It also explores the tensions, conflicts, and cooperation within the network of disciplines, governmental agencies, institutions, stake holders, and local residents. This paper highlights that for urban historical quarters, instead of replacing all the community and functions, a long-term tourism should adapt into an integrated and participatory network of urban regeneration process, which is largely beyond its physical aspects and would provide a new perspective for urban tourism.