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Tourism, essential for Barcelona and for the talent economy

Tourism, essential for Barcelona and for the talent economy

Barcelona must once again gain the admiration of visitors. Only if the city is attractive to its own citizens will it also win back the tourists.

A new public-private strategy with several specific proposals will ensure that tourism becomes one of the drivers of the talent economy we aspire to.

Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in the city and the country as a whole. The sector is responsible for job creation (currently some 115,000 jobs) and wealth (14% of Barcelona’s GDP); it also has a major impact on other key sectors of our economy, such as those linked to the talent economy.

Tourism has made Barcelona famous worldwide, enabling the city to enjoy the same international recognition as major global cities despite its smaller size, population and economic weight. Citizens of Barcelona who travel around the world are often surprised by the city’s positive image in other countries. It is this image that has helped to bring research projects, start-ups, creative ventures, and investment to the city. In short, people come to Barcelona not only for its beauty, but also as a place to live and work.

The tourism sector is currently going through difficult times following the pandemic. In addition to the need to improve Barcelona’s approach to tourism and adapt it to the new realities, this exceptional situation puts considerable pressure on the public authorities and the key players in the tourism industry—entrepreneurs, investors, managers of infrastructures and facilitiews—who must now adopt the necessary measures to position Barcelona as a major destination for tourism and the talent economy.

For this reason, Barcelona Global has presented a set of proposals that seek to strengthen the visitor economy as a strategic sector in Barcelona. The proposals are presented in a document entitled Commitment to tourism, the driver of talent', prepared with the input of over 30 major tourism stakeholders in Barcelona.

Ten ways of ensuring Barcelona remains a high quality destination

Following more than 40 hours of interviews with 25 businessmen and managers of some of the city's main tourism assets (hotels, restaurants, bookstores, tourist attractions, museums, guilds and associations), we can affirm that the sector agrees that the model that has made Barcelona one of the world's benchmarks in urban tourism is at risk if Barcelona does not quickly recover its reputation as an attractive city with a high quality life style.

Moreover, tourism is so important to Barcelona's economy that there must be a joint vision involving all areas: urban planning, economic promotion, finance, mobility, security, cleanliness, urban landscape, technology, and culture.

After reviewing the main strategy documents as well as the proposals that Barcelona Global has set out over the last 4 years, the association suggest 10 specific commitments:

  1. A commitment to quality that focuses on public spaces, safety, cleanliness and the use of technology.
  2.  A proactive, dynamic administration that ensures legal security for investment in the sector, makes decisions rapidly, promotes quality in all dimensions of tourism in the city, is firm against antisocial behaviour, and maintains an open and constructive dialogue with the private tourist sector.
    The public authorities should work on proposals: • To make the PEUAT tourism plan more flexible and permit the building of iconic hotels in protected buildings in the city center.
    • To ensure that tourist apartments are only located in dedicated buildings for this purpose.
    • To make changes to business hours
  3. Support for the sector that is linked to economic recovery and encourages investment and quality.
  4. An intercontinental hub that prioritizes cruises starting and ending in Barcelona.
  5. Prioritization of culture as a major city asset and a key factor in the creation of high quality opportunities for both residents and visitors:
    • Build a reputation for world-beating cultural events.
    • Generate new cultural activity based on key axes such as international circuits, music, digitalization and knowledge.
  6. A dynamic and active city center for locals, visitors and economic activity, with special emphasis on Las Ramblas, Via Laietana, the Ciutadella, Paral-lel, and Montjuïc.
  7. New sectors of the economy to attract new visitors such health, wellness, and higher education.
  8. Encouragement of year-round tourism through a commitment to major events to promote and transform the city and prioritization of Christmas and winter activities.
  9. Renewed public-private collaboration based on action plans and shared commitments.
  10. Renewed promotion of the city with the commitment of all sectors involved.

Public-private dialogue to make tourism one of the key drivers of the Barcelona of talent

The challenge is to make these plans a reality. And to do so it is important to align the public sector with the main private tourism stakeholders in the city. This collaboration requires more focused spaces for dialogue than those that exist currently.

Barcelona Global proposes to provide the necessary resources for the coordination of the proposals. This means (1) a framework of dialogue and trust that is currently missing between the public and private sectors; and (2) improving the reputation of the tourist sector among citizens and key opinion leaders in the city.

Barcelona's greatest attraction is the city in which people live—a dynamic city in which both local residents and visitors can enjoy all the cultural, sporting, gastronomic, leisure and entertainment experiences that make Barcelona unique. A city that should be recognized as a global leader for its quality of life.

Barcelona Global’s commitment to this tourism strategy is a commitment to the Barcelona of talent we aspire to and is based on the Mediterranean values that define us: a city that has a strong identity, a city that is welcoming, hard-working, creative, enterprising, and cosmopolitan.

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