“Is Barcelona being spoilt by tourists?” This is a question that many Barcelona locals have been asking for some time. In fact, some minds were made up long ago.
It’s been two years since BBC’s Fast-Track came through to gauge the balance of opinion on tourism and everyday life in and around Barcelona’s “Old Town” and other visitor hotspots. Since then, there is perceptibly less grumbling about what, how and why tourism detracts from the city, which says something about public awareness of the economic benefits tourism brings to the city–no one in Spain right now wants to knock a trade that continues to grow and provide jobs.
But the issues surrounding the negative impacts of tourism don’t go away. Do tourism activities and tourist paraphernalia now dominate sense of place in Barcelona’s “historical centre”?
Ensuring residents enjoy liveable places—a liveable city—can often go hand-in-hand with better places to visit. So how can the remaining local charm and local life—those sources of increasing visitor interest (as well as distinct market advantage)—be sustained and nourished so that, further down the line, Barcelona can continue to reap the benefits of visitor arrivals and spend?
These are the issues that I hope will be thoroughly explored at RTD7. I’m also really looking forward to hearing the likes of destination manager and marketers, Pere Duran and Mario Rubert speak on these issues, as well as the very observant human geographer, Jose Antonio Donaire.
Can the RTD7 programme–and the ensuing Declaration–help chart a more sustainable course for a city that continues to prosper from tourism?