Most of the published works on place promotion and urban change have been undertaken within the western world. This essay goes beyond previous studies by examining the phenomenon within the African context. Specifically, it examines the utility of heritage tourism as an avenue for place promotion of Cape Coast, Ghana. The essay demonstrates how urban development in Ghana has become more centralized on towns such as Accra and Kumasi, so that once important towns like Cape Coast have lost their importance. The fact that such towns have attempted to improve their position via innovative urban development strategies, and the experience of Cape Coast, is a testimony of how heritage tourism is helping to fill this gap. However, there are significant structural constraints on the effective use of tourism in salvaging Cape Coast’s declining image, and these have to be addressed before too much faith is put in tourism as a tool for place promotion.