Posts Tagged ‘Barcelona’

“Barcelona tiene que elegir: cultura o juerga”

A Barcelona per al nostre esdeveniment de turisme responsable a la ciutat de Barcelona, Talk Walking, Prof. Harold Goodwin va ser entrevistat per La Vanguardia.

La contra: Harold Goodwin:

Pregúntese si el turismo que recibe Barcelona está al servicio de la ciudad… o si es la ciudad la que está al servicio del turismo.

Participa en el debat i col·laborar per fer de Barcelona un millor lloc per viure, i no només un millor lloc per ser un turista.

Tingueu en compte que la Xarxa de Turisme Responsable també intercanvia idees i organitza trobadas a través del seu grup de Facebook.


Getting Close-serola, or when Talk Walking headed for the hills

30/05/2012 1 comment

Evarist March of NaturalWalks joined our group in the afternoon and led us “by the most natural route possible” from the top of the Collserola park down to the station for our suburban train back to Barcelona.  One of the most interesting facets of the conversation along the way related to public attitudes to this Natural Park.  While it seems much of the media and public discourse on the park is negative, pointing to issues such as the risk of forest fires and wild boars encroaching on peripheral residential areas, few stories celebrate the beauty and mere existence of this diverse natural area so close to the city.

I had been up to the park a few weeks before, taking a visiting friend up there.  It was by no means my first trip, but this time I was struck by my ignorance of the environment I was in.  Such ignorance is hardly uncommon, however.

Ring-fenced by motorways and a metropolis of more than 3 million, Parc Collserola is the biggest metropolitan park in the world, equivalent to twenty-two Central Parks (New York).  The Carretera de les Aigües–an accessible, broad 20-km track with panoramic views of sea and city–is very popular with cyclists, runners, walkers and horse-riders.  Yet despite its proximity to the city and the estimated two million visits it receives a year, the interior of the park is relatively unknown to many Barcelona-dwellers.

A day out in Parc Collserola to enjoy and better understand the park, its nature and use

Of course, it takes time–in books and in the field–to develop the kind of knowledge and familiarity you need to be able to interpret what you can see, hear, smell, touch and even taste in the Collserola Park.  So to get to some of that knowledge quicker, I got together a group of friends of the Xarxa de Turisme Responsable/ICRT Barcelona and we headed into the hills to “get closer” to the park, hence the droll name for this Facebook Group event.  Amongst us were an ornithologist, a botanist (Evarist), a landscape architect, a photographer and a counsellor.  And with a little pre-trip reading, we were set up for some interesting observations.  These notes offer a snapshot of what followed:

—     leaving behind the noise of the ring-road and entering “another place”.

—     no hoopoes this time–they’re migratory, suppose it was time they’d moved on.

—     a splendid garden, or a path up a south-facing valley where lavender, broom and a dozen other flowering plants and shrubs I can’t name perform for us in warm sunshine?

—     rock roses displaying their papery petals

—     hearing about the sex lives of different pine trees.

—     Caça Controlada, i.e. yet more “controlled hunting” space, hearing about Franco’s trophy hunter scheme, and reflecting on its legacy–to this day is this a threat to ecological sustainability in Spain’s “natural areas”?

—     rich earthy smells on narrow paths through low pine scrub–it rained plentifully the week before–this is where you could imagine the threat of fire exists after long hot dry spells.

—     multifarious birdsong just about everywhere we walk.

—     a woodpecker drills for food–they’re indicators of forest health, explains Diana, although a handful of Asian and African species are known to have adapted to forest plantations.

—     forest in recovery, yet perceived by some as bosc brut (“dirty woodland? Scrubby, perhaps?) who perhaps don’t understand or don’t value the processes of succession.

—     more honeysuckle–it’s been in abundance–sweet droplets within

—     Evarist identifies an orchid, Limodorum abortivum, by the footpath not from the park’s exit.

—     legs good, but head weary–wear hat next time.

Some of the thoughts that we had shared among ourselves by the end of the day:

…Let’s hear less aprovechar (take advange of or make the most of in English) and more valorar (value or appreciate) in connection with the park.  In other words, let’s hear more about the luxury of having such a rich diversity of natural life on our doorstep, and less about it being problematic.

…Let’s encourage a considerate and better-informed approach to enjoying the park, so that the challenges to the area’s ecological integrity might be more easily overcome.

…And let’s do this again sometime, perhaps towards the end of a long summer evening when the “unseen” wildlife emerges.

Alex Florez posted some excellent photos of the day’s walk here.

Local nature guide, Lucy Brzoska, posts superb photos and blogs specifically on this natural area at IberiaNature.

You might also be interested to know that plans are being made to “bring the park closer” to its urban neighbours via 16 entry “gates”.

This day out follows on from “Talk Walking”, when responsible tourism advocates and practitioners from the ICRT and other organisations gathered in Barcelona to talk urban tourism, heritage and managing better places for people to live in and visit.


From Berlin to Barcelona: Welcome Goodbye

04/03/2012 1 comment

Once again city authorities in Barcelona (and Catalunya) are vying with those of Madrid.  This time it’s for the option to become a “Eurovegas destination”.  The tabling of this project is perhaps irresistible given the very high levels of unemployment in Spain.  But EuroVegas will be no gift.  There will be economic costs as well as a range of social, cultural and environmental impacts (as well as opportunities).  And then there are the opportunity costs–the money invested and the people and places given over to development might be better “spent” on other livelihood-supporting activities…  perhaps?

The big question for me, however, is what would be the dimensions and characteristics of tourism to Barcelona given both the presence of Eurovegas and predicted future tourism volumes.

And, incidentally, on what grounds does Eurovegas form part of the city’s sustainable tourism strategy?

Would Eurovegas serve to decant tourism from parts of the city where authorities have recognised that large visitor volumes challenge the balance of local life?  Or would Eurovegas add to the intensity of tourism numbers, thereby reducing the diversity of place uses and degrading the intrinsic qualities of the city’s places?

With these questions in mind it is little wonder that the Welcome Goodbye project has caught my interest (video in German with subtitles in English).  This filming project plans to ask questions about the potential outcomes for plans to grow, grow and… grow tourism to Berlin.  I suggest it gives cause for reflection for the city and people of Barcelona, with or without Eurovegas.


Entrevista a Javier Rodríguez, presidente de Anta

Javier Rodríguez, presidente de Anta, explica cómo llevar la sostenibilidad al sector


Sostenibles ¿Es ya?

Ni tan sencillo ni tan rápido pero si efectivo. Los restaurantes están viviendo una corriente de cambio enfocada al desarrollo sostenible que ahora se materializa en ANTA. Esta asociación busca poner al día al sector, englobarlo y aportar iniciativas para no perder el tren de la evolución en sostenibilidad.

Su compromiso por la sostenibilidad – han buscado soluciones y productos locales, reciclados, saludables, compostables, reciclables y productos forestales con certificado de origen – ha hecho que el restaurante barcelonés Fastvínic, haya recibido la certificación LEED Gold,  máximo referente internacional en el diseño, la construcción y la operación en edificios ecológicos de alto rendimiento. Las vajillas que utiliza el establecimiento, que ofrece bocadillos ecológicos y menú kilómetro cero, excepto las copas de vino Riedel y las bandejas de madera Delica, es compostable, y las materias primas usadas para su producción son recicladas o de origen rápidamente renovable. Esto es sólo una muestra. Un ejemplo, quizás uno de los primeros, que se convertirá en común en el sector con el paso del tiempo.

“Todos los sujetos económicos hablan de sostenibilidad y en hostelería las cadenas hoteleras han sido pioneras en ello. Sin embargo, los temas de desarrollo sostenible son tan complejos que, a petición de algunos socios, hemos creado un grupo de trabajo que pilota nuestro Vicepresidente Ejecutivo, Mario Cañizal, conforme se pueda reunir en un único dossier todo lo que un restaurante debe conocer sobre el tema”, Javier Rodríguez es el director de ANTA. Una asociación, que promueve el desarrollo tecnológico en el seno del sector, y que ha iniciado un movimiento asociativo en el que desea reunir a entidades, profesionales y empresas que comulguen con los principios del desarrollo sostenible en hostelería y en particular, a los restaurantes.

¿Qué aporta al restaurante?
¿Cuesta poner en marcha esta iniciativa? Para Rodríguez, y tras un año y medio de trabajo, lo más complejo ha sido lograr una visión global del tema “hemos empezado con dos grupos de trabajo en función de si se dedican a restauración colectiva o comercial, y da igual que sean empresas independientes u organizadas en cadenas”. En España apenas acaba de arrancar esta preocupación por la sostenibilidad y la eficiencia energética en el sector de la restauración, sin embargo si que han podido estudiar y valorar las diferentes versiones y velocidades que sobre el tema existen en la UE, el Norte de Europa, Canadá o EEUU. “De esa forma ganamos tiempo y no perdemos el tren de la evolución y el cambio que se va a producir en la restauración debido a los  temas de sostenibilidad”.

¿Cómo ser sostenible?
Las claves para una correcta gestión de residuos, la comunicación en materia de sostenibilidad, todo sobre las compras ‘verdes’ y, en definitiva, los pasos para convertirse en un Restaurante Sostenible… son aspectos que ANTA tiene más que identificados y qué aporta  a sus socios para que puedan ponerlos en práctica. Hasta el momento, la afiliación es voluntaria. A través de la página web un restaurante se puede informar de lo que se va haciendo y logrando. Y la información llega a todos los niveles ya que los proveedores, sean grandes empresas de servicios, equipadores  o fabricantes, Restaurantes Sostenibles les permitirá saber cómo llegar más rápido al colectivo de empresas que ya comulgan con los principios del desarrollo sostenible.

Damos prioridad a los proveedores. Es la sociedad la que debe madurar, y lo está haciendo, para exigir una nueva frontera a los restaurantes en materia de sostenibilidad”, señala Javier Rodríguez. Aunque la respuesta del sector es positiva, hay un largo camino por delante según ANTA y quien ha visto en la crisis un motivo de retroceso para el desarrollo de esta iniciativa: “Nos piden un plazo más largo de incorporación activa  ya que, con la recesión económica actual, pocos pueden plantearse inversiones que pese a su carácter autoliquidable, carecen de financiación para acometerse”, concluye.

Fuente: B. Rodríguez  06/10/2011

Just how enamoured with tourism are the Barcelonins?

Survey results released at the end of this summer prompted the headline in the Catalan edition of El Periódico “nine out of ten Barcelonins “applaud” [approve of] tourism”.

Well, 9 out of 10 of those who commented this story online responded “falsa” (false), “mentida” (lies) or “a quien demonios le han hecho esta encuesta?” (who the hell did they do this survey with?). Read beyond the headline, however, and the reasons for the 87.5% positive response become a bit clearer.

Tourism is probably the only major industry sector in Barcelona to have continued growing regardless of recent and ongoing economic crises: June through August saw tourist arrivals up 5.1% on the same period the previous year; tourism represents 15% of the city’s GDP; and visitors are purported to leave an average of €2 million a day in a multitude of cash tills in the city.

Such figures are also widely reported in the city’s press, so it’s to no surprise that city residents respond favourably when asked questions like “Does tourism create wealth?” and “Is tourism beneficial?”.

These questions do not, however, provide a complete or accurate picture of how locals feel about tourism. Above all, different locals feel differently about tourism–sometimes very differently–and this often depends on the extent to which they either benefit from tourism, or have to tolerate its less-appealing repercussions as part of daily life.

A more incisive reaction to the news story, therefore, involved questioning whether the survey had involved anyone living in the area around Las Ramblas. To those unfamiliar with the city, this is where Barcelona provides all sorts of enjoyment for tourists as well as residents from other parts of the city, ranging from taking in some extraordinary built heritage, to having fun in bars and clubs. Places here are special for myriad reasons–symbolic, nostalgic, identity-defining, educational, multicultural,…–again, depending on individual and group perspectives.

Also key, however, is the residential use of the area immediately surrounding Las Ramblas. So while some long-established residents may have perceived some Olympian improvements in infrastructure, they have also borne the brunt of an incredible growth in tourism flows with its attendant effects and changes to their neighbourhood. Elsewhere amongst Barcelona citizens, this has resulted in a certain level of recrimination that this iconic area is now “owned” by tourism and is less charming, less characterful or “less Barcelona” as a result, hence the various campaigns in recent years to “reclaim La Rambla”.

Here are some of the insights I gained while talking to people in La Rambla area whilst conducting interviews and a questionnaire survey as part of my Masters project in October-November 2010. Of the resident group surveyed:

  • 70% disagreed or strongly disagreed to the notion that “tourism generally seems to be having a positive effect on life” in the area
  • 50% strongly agreed that “the large volumes of people visiting this area have a negative effect on [their] enjoyment of the area”
  • 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed that visitors “seem to treat the place with respect”.
  • while 30% of residents indicated affection for the area, over 30% of them chose of their own volition to describe it as noisy, crowded, stressful and alike.

These figures are intensified considerably when we focus on those residents who have been living in the area for several years or more, i.e. established residents.

Clearly, the statistics I have presented are less upbeat than those based on different questions and a city-wide sample. But they are equally pertinent, if not more so.

Yes, people across the city support tourism to Barcelona–such international interest in the city is still a source of pride for many Barcelonins. And yes, there is much acknowledgement that tourism has helped improve the city in many ways, and that it continues to pay many salaries. But these views mix with doubts and resentment and the real and visible remonstrations of Barcelona’s “tourismophobes”.

So I question the utility of such broad-based surveys, and ask, isn’t it better to reach an understanding of the attitudes of those Barcelonins who really play host, whether inadvertently or purposefully, to its tourism and visitor industry? After all, don’t the city’s planners and policy-makers, businesses and tourism strategies need real insight if sustainability objectives are really to be acheived?


The coordinating team for the Xarxa de Turisme Responsable meet tomorrow, Thursday, in the Barri Gòtic.  One of the things we will be discussing is the launch of a website for the network.  This serves as a prototype for us to discuss, play with, modify, improve…  See you tomorrow!

Categories: Network News Tags: ,