Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Barcelona - professions working legally for more than a century but with an uncertain future

Maria Abril Sellarés

Maria Abril Sellarés. PhD in Teaching Social Sciences and Heritage at the University of Barcelona *

When we think of tourism and its professionals, those who usually come to mind are people working in the hotel sector (of any type and category) in the restaurant sector and in the sector of travel agencies and leisure. It takes a little more effort to identify some other professionals such as tour guides, either because of their status, their work history or by an erroneous popular conception that has often left them out of the categorization of professionals.

In the city of Barcelona, the concern for showing the most important monuments and events to visitors dates back more than a century, particularly when the city held its first World Expo in 1888, located in the Parc de la Ciutadella and surroundings. At that time, the council decided to give good assistance to anyone who needed it through adequate training of their local police forces. Although such training today would be seen as not very rigorous, that does not stop it being an effort to the benefit of those who came to the city for this exhibition, but unfortunately it also gave rise to the rogue germ which in future years would spoil the reputation of the profession guides.

In 1908, the City of Barcelona created the Societat d'Atracció de Foraster (The Society for the Attraction of Foreigners) sponsored by Doménech J. Sanllehy, city mayor. The purpose was to inform, encourage and promote tourism in Barcelona, but there is no direct reference in the statutes of the company on the profession of Tour Guides, understanding that the daily newspaper, pamphlets, lectures and other tools would be sufficient. Finally, that year a Royal Order of 18/03/1909 Circular appeared that would regulate the bad practices of the profession of Tour Guide that was happening in the country. From that moment, and during the first half of the twentieth century, different regulations would be introduced that applied to the whole of Spain.

A powers pertaining to the Generalitat

In the case of Barcelona, a new event, the second International Exhibition, located in Montjuïc, again posed new challenges in the areas of Tour Guides in Barcelona, always from the perspective of Societat d'Atracció of Forasters, offering both a permit for not only the guides but also the tourists who wanted to visit the sites and the most significant monuments of Barcelona, and in the May issue of their own magazine, the creation of a body of Tour Guides was announced.

The transfer of powers from the central government to the Regional Government, which occurred during the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), included those related to tourism issues. Despite being a power pertaining to the Generalitat, the two governments reached an agreement known as the Tourism Cooperation Agreement, in the tenth article of which the profession of Tour Guide, and those that could be understood as dependents of that Convention were regulated: the figure of the Tour Guide themselves, the Guide-Interpreter and the Informer-interpreter.

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