UIC Barcelona's Faculty of Humanities discusses Barcelona and cultural tourism outside the university
The Barcelona brand is alive and kicking: was one of the conclusions of the round table held at the Barcelona Museum of Modernism. In other words, it is important that we learn to handle the 7 million tourists who visit Barcelona each year, and the 25 million who visit Catalonia. Around fifty people attended the session, which was organised by the Faculty of Humanities and the Postgraduate Degree in Catalan Modernism: Art and Management.
Judith Urbano, a School of Architecture lecturer and event moderator, began the round table by saying, "tourism used to be seasonal, but now it's something that goes on all year round, albeit Monday, Saturday or Sunday, and that poses a challenge". Everyone agreed and concurred that the crux of the matter is learning how to handle this new paradigm and promote quality tourism.
Over the next hour, the director of the Barcelona Museum of Modernism, Gema Losa; the director of Singular Houses, Isabel Vallès; Joan Sibina, architect and museologist; and the audience engaged in a debate about what needs to be done in Barcelona. "With the Barcelona brand, if nothing is done to maintain a level that befits us, things could get ugly", insisted the architect. "We need to manage what we have properly".
Barcelona is a place people often revisit. "Though it's true", admitted Vallès, "that people come to see Gaudí, on their second or third visit they ask to see another side of Barcelona". This is the side of Barcelona that we have to learn to manage. "We need to give our city a European, universal air, yet without forgetting who we are", asserted the museum director.
Mind you, greater implication is also required of the local government. According to Losa, "they should at least help 'sponge away' the tourists that accumulate around the major sites: Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera... They need to help disperse the crowds". "If we want to generate a 'tourist product' here or on Montjuïc, or anywhere in Catalonia", explained Sibina, "the local government needs to worry about facilitating these routes: 'How do I get to Montjuïc?', for instance".
The main challenge, therefore, is to turn mass tourism into cultural tourism, into quality tourism. Otherwise we run the risk of what one of the attendees said coming true: "We need quality professionals and we need to establish rules; Barcelona's model is becoming more and more like Venice's".