Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Tourism in Barcelona: Radical change or consensus model for all?

Carmen P. Flores. Journalist

From the 60s onwards, the tourism boom successfully began its boom in Spain. At first, it was simply tourism of sun, beach and the beach snack bar. It is the time when you could see the naive tourists, red as tomatoes as a result of hours and hours lying on the beach soaking up the sun that they did not have in their countries of origin. The food began incorporated itself into the elements of sun and sand of international tourism as yet another appealing element. Sangria, beer and wine contributed to the increase in visitors without forgetting, of course, prices that were very cheap compared to other countries. Later they more components that were attractive to tourists were added: cultural visits, walks in the cities, landscapes, and free and easy access to health care especially for retirees, all together a real bargain.

Tourism has been, and remains, an economic engine of prime importance for this country. It is like the goose that laid the golden eggs. Eternal? If it is not cared for, no. The three summer months when visitors came have been transformed in tourism 365 days a year, with all that this means to the Catalan capital as regards generating wealth, jobs, more economic activity, more work. Barcelona, one of the most popular tourist cities, has received and continues to receive the visits by millions of people every year, and this is still increasing considerably. Changes and transformations also entail, in some cases, degradation, if they are not planned in advance and with a knowledge of this tourism.

Planning does not mean putting a stop to the tourism, that is, stopping the construction of new hotels, taking advantage of the change of use of landmark buildings that give character to the city, generating jobs and attracting tourists with high purchasing power, nor, much less telling the tourists that they cannot come because the city model is not yet defined. Planning the model for the tourist city we want, with consensus and input from all sectors involved for sure is good for the city and its democratic health. Paralyzing the tourist dynamics for one year to study what they want to do is impractical and lacking in business and political vision. It is like trying to freeze time for 365 days, thinking that the deals will still be there, waiting all this time for us to clarify ourselves. The best example of what we are saying has just given by neighbouring Hospitalet to the very self-confident Mayoress of Barcelona by publically offering to host the hotels that their neighbour wanted to stop building. The train of opportunity stops at the station only once. Now we can't say that of before: "come back again tomorrow."

For this reason and because it is a fascinating subject, TEJ wanted to get to know the opinion and proposals of the political representatives in the city of Barcelona, the original source of the mess that has happened, but also get the reflection of teachers and specialists in the field. The result will not leave you indifferent. For sure, you will find answers to the questions that you, dear readers, have been asking yourselves throughout this time of media storm.

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