Catalan Government and economists support a change of model for tourism in Catalonia

SME association calls for a pact between all political parties to decide where the sector should go

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File image of a hotel in Lloret de Mar (La Selva).

BarcelonaGeneralitat and several economists have agreed this Wednesday at an event at the Catalan Economists' Professional Association that a change of model in Catalonia's tourist industry is needed.

Business secretary Albert Castellanos indicated that Catalonia needs to initiate "a process of collective transformation to create a new tourist model that is environmentally responsible, socially fair, territorially balanced and reconnected with the country's identity". In this sense, he said the Catalan government is working to promote "sustainable, responsible and innovative tourism".

In the same vein, the Generalitat's director general for Tourism, Marta Domènech, said that in the medium term the Government's intentions are to "promote a regenerative and circular model to achieve a better country to live in and to be visited." For this reason, the Generalitat will develop an action plan focused on wine and gastronomic tourism and will seek consensus to achieve "a national commitment to responsible tourism that has to be a collective global framework that frames strategic and action plans".

On this aspect, the president of the tourism sector of the SME association Pimec, Isabel Galobardes, asked to go a step further: "The country deserves to go beyond a commitment", she said, which is why she has called for "a country pact that involves all parties in parliament". In spite of this, she also asked that no new tourist taxes be imposed in Catalonia without first getting "resources to the SMEs in the sector".

Less overcrowding

The event, held at Catalan Economists' Professional Association headquarters in Barcelona, was also attended by Judit Vall, professor of economics at the UB, who emphasised the need to "increase the quality of jobs" in the sector, as well as "increasing potential travellers' trust and enhance citizens' satisfaction with the tourism sector". Along the same lines, the dean of the Economists' Professional Association, Carles Puig de Travy, recalled that "conventional tourism, often characterised by the overcrowding of specific areas or the consumption of resources in an irresponsible manner, has an impact on the environment and on the people who live there", which is why a change is needed "towards a more conscious and responsible tourism model".

In recent years, both the Generalitat and some city councils –for example Barcelona– have studied measures to reduce the impact of tourism both on the environment and on the population of the most affected municipalities, especially after two years during which foreign visitors was at a minimum due to the pandemic. Controls on tourist apartments or the possibility of limiting the number of cruise ships –an important source of pollution and overcrowding in the streets of the Catalan capital– are some of the policies which have been implemented.