Understanding + urban tourism I The December long weekend takes Barcelona’s pulse

The long bridge first of December. These are auspicious days for those who can afford it, and with permission from omicron, the new variant of covid-19, make a city ​​break. Barcelona can be claimed again as destino de ‘city break‘and recover the pulse of the shopping tourism, but for this you must take advantage of the current moment of tourist inflection to take strategic decisions Of future. Daniel Imbert-Bouchard Ribera, of the CETT-UB, and Gabriel Jené, Barcelona Oberta, address these measures.

With the Christmas lights already lighting the streets and about to turn on next day 8 of the colossal star 12-point luminous lamp that, at one height of 138 meters, will crown the new tower of the Virgin Mary of the Holy Family, Barcelona invites locals and tourists to experience Christmas in the city.

Barcelona is recovering the tourist pulse. The Hotels from the Catalan capital received in October to 494,753 clients, the best figure of the whole year, but still away from pre-pandemic registries. The spanish tourism represents the 26% of the clientele of Barcelona hotels. The december bridge It will be a time to measure the city ​​pulse as an urban and shopping destination.

Towards more sustainable citybreaks

Daniel Imbert-Bouchard Ribera. Coordinator of the Official Master’s Degree in Innovation in Tourism Management of Urban Destinations – CETT-UB

With permission of the evolution of the pandemic, auspicious dates are approaching to carry out short breaks on urban spaces to take advantage of the different options that they offer during the last part of the year. Whether to perform Christmas shopping, consume cultural activities, attend shows or simply to walk and breathe in the atmosphere offered by the cities in winter. In essence, the the rise of city breaks It responds to a cause derived from multiple factors that were promoted in the late 90s and early this century. Mainly, thanks to the arrival of the low cost flights and greater flexibility in adapting holidays, combining the weekends on the part of its visitors. Both aspects, together with a worked promotion of the tourist administrations, have allowed over time delay seasonality beyond summer times.

Thus, the main Destinations denominated of ‘city break’ have been consolidated from a international demand who has created an imaginary clearly represented by capitals with a open, cosmopolitan and culturally attractive. Destinations that have in common a good connectivity, a generous accommodation capacity and diversity and a fan of experiences thought to be consumed in a few days.

Increases awareness of tourism that does not depend on means of transport incompatible with the climate emergency

However, apart from these large cities, it should also be borne in mind that the cities considered average -in terms of size and scope- have gone breaking through in recent times, offering increasingly suggestive proposals while being genuine, emphasizing what local and identity. It is proximity urban tourism has been structured, more and more, in a context clearly subject to strong international mobility restrictions for the pandemic and one increased awareness towards a more responsible tourism that does not depend on incompatible means of transport with the climate emergency. Precisely, ‘city breaks’ are the travel formats linked to displacements that tend to generate a strong environmental impact, if you only travel for a few days to far away places.

However, faced with a need to regain the pulse of urban tourism, these getaways gradually increase confidence in visiting these types of destinations. An aspect that has not been overlooked by its administrations, which have already been working on it. Thus, destinations that opt ​​for this type of format must comply with a series differential factors. On the one hand, they have to be accessible cities, easy to walk and walking, whose mobility is successfully integrated by means of a agile and comfortable public transport. It is also a key aspect for its competitiveness as weekend destinations if arrival is allowed by more sustainable methods As the train -with 5 or 6 hours maximum of displacement-. In addition, these destinations must comply with a good and powerful cultural offer, that is capable of combining with the interests of short stay visitors. In this area, museums, temporary exhibitions can be identified or even, also, leave space for the gastronomy or assistance to theaters and musical shows as elements of attraction.

BCN must articulate a tourism offer that is coherent and sustainable

In the case of Barcelona, it can be reaffirmed as destino de ‘city break’ provided that the development of these strategies is committed and that they are dimensioned for a public that visits the city in a short time. Fostering at the same time that you go to spaces that go beyond more traditional and consolidated, expanding the imaginaries associated with destiny. Achieve, through this travel format, a consistent and sustainable formula to attract a type of tourism that moves away from practices with behaviors more uncivil. In this case, emphasize the cultural look aimed at these markets and profiles, the ability to generate an offer in this regard, as well as integrative proposals with the balance economic, social and environmental, They indicate the way forward to find urban tourism more in line with what the city intends and what its citizens expect.

Shopping city

Gabriel Jené Llabrés. President of Barcelona Oberta

we face this end of the year with certain optimism, because we are noticing how the joy of citizenship has reached the consumption, reactivating the Economic recovery of domestic demand. The bet of Barcelona’s town hall to support city commerce with actions such as the big Christmas lights on from the center of Barcelona are of great help to restore this optimism and at the same time have greater international visibilityhim, because we must not forget that the shopping tourism It’s one of the main economic assets from Barcelona.

In this post-covid era we see how Barcelona recovers its projection, with the arrival of technology companies who choose our city for the development of their activities, which gives us a image of avant-garde and progress, as well as the arrival of a quality resident public, respectful, cosmopolitan and with purchasing power.

At this moment of inflection it is crucial to rethink what strategic actions are keys to recover Barcelona as quality destination. The intercontinental airport connectivity, the bet of the cruise ships as a start and finish in Barcelona, ​​the culture As a great asset of the city, the sustainable and innovative mobility and the commitment to the city center as a re-economic engine are unquestionable elements to face the future.

The lack of planning in urban planning and mobility is worrying

At the municipal level we celebrate decisions such as the improved cleaning or the increase in Security forces, at the same time we see with worry the lack of planning in urban planning and mobility.

Barcelona must be pioneer in solutions of sustainable mobility that they do not leave behind sectors such as commerce in this Transformation proccess. The Rambla, the Via Laietana, the Port Front Litoral, the 22 @, the Paral·lel, offer great opportunities for urban innovation that it is necessary to attend as soon as possible and not to delay municipal decisions any longer under the perplexed gaze of neighbors and merchants. (Remember that the reform of La Rambla carries 2015 days approved in full municipal and is still without running). The mobility projects have been carried out without dialogue or consensus with the agents involved, without working together for the improvement and agility of the daily life of neighbors, visitors and merchants. It is useless to promote city trade policies on the one hand if, on the other hand, we impede accessibility to commercial hubs.

Barcelona should be at the level of other Spanish and European destinations in terms of commercial calendar

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Finally, the importance of Barcelona as international shopping destination and the acceleration of commerce ‘on line’ forces us to reflect on the role that the Catalan capital is playing in terms of tourist business hours. Big Data and data on transactions tourist shopping in the city they place the concentration of activity between the months April to October. It is incomprehensible that the city is left behind with a restrictive calendar, when we should rise to the challenge other Spanish and European cities, with a agreed calendar which was officially presented last May by the first deputy mayor, Jaume Collboni.

We hope that Barcelona will overcome this debate and be in line with the great cities of the world, and even more so now at a key moment in which they are needed real measures of economic reactivation.


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