Tourism: a challenge, an opportunityRedacción
Alfred Bosch. Speaker for the ERC Municipal Group. Barcelona City Council
Tourism in Barcelona has become one of the issues that everyone has the courage to speak about, because we all see it, we all suffer it and many enjoyed it, although often we are not aware of it. Often the problems that it generates are more visible than the advantages, and as an example we ignore that 14% of the GDP of the city comes from this activity.
The first step to engage in the debate goes through an X-ray of the situation that tells us exactly where we are. Today Barcelona is an established brand, we have a city with an attractive model for visitors in many different areas and the range of leisure, culture, fairs and conferences and events on offer is so great that most visitors do find a good reason to visit our city. It is a model of success, but is under threat, including from its own success.
This success is a result of many factors, and let me highlight two of them, the involvement of the administration -and here I think that the work of Esquerra (Republican Left) during the years he has been part of the city government will be one of the key factors- and work that professionals have done in the travel sector. The city, its history, climate and situation are essential, however without the involvement of the players would not be where we are.
I think in recent years the City has not been paying attention to the many changes that have occurred in a globalised world that has led to new offers and has also led to the emergence of new requirements. From the "hostels" through the revolution that a platform like Airbnb has caused. We have been missing observation and planning, and this has brought us the current problems of coexistence and of urban and property pressure.
The quality of what is on offer is in danger
The exponential increase in visitors has had an equally exponential expansion in supply. Moreover, there has been huge concentration of people at the busiest points, which have reached a situation of saturation. This has caused a feeling of rejection of tourism, which we have already said does not benefit the industry and upsets the daily life of the locals who have been expelled from some of these emblematic places in the city, now overrun, invaded by tourism venues.
The sum of all these elements leads to the quality of the offer being in danger and there is a loss of competitiveness compared to other destinations. A sum of factors that today make many still see tourism as an opportunity. Nevertheless, regulation and planning is lacking if we want to avoid finding ourselves on a slippery slope leading Barcelona to be a city where the only thing is tourism.
This motivation to stop and study the situation in depth has resulted in the suspension of licenses of accommodation throughout the city. This is a decision that may also become a threat because it goes against decentralization, and could lead to an increase the number of illegal use of spaces for tourists and cause a loss of quality due to lack of competition. This has led us to defend the creation of the Tourism Board, which should be used to develop a strategic plan with an urgent and broad consensus that allows us to see beyond the short term. It will serve to lay the foundations for sustainable and quality tourism that allows us to go further than the current decade.