On the 18th and 19th of May, Barcelona held the International Conference "Sustainable Tourism within the framework of the New Urban Agenda". The opening ceremony of the conference was chaired by Jaume Collboni, Deputy Mayor for Enterprise, Culture and Innovation in Barcelona. The inaugural session also included the Secretary General for Enterprises and Knowledge, Xavier Gibert; The president of the Barcelona Provincial Council, Mercè Conesa; the president of the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), Tomás Azcárate; and through videoconference, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb D. Rifal, and Joan Clos, executive secretary of UN-Habitat.
In his inaugural speech, Jaume Collboni stressed that "tourism must be at the service of the city, of coexistence, not the other way around, and be compatible with the model of city that citizens want." Barcelona", continued Collboni, "has the challenge of working for a sustainable and quality tourism, decentralized and deconcentrated." The Deputy Mayor responsible for the area of Enterprise, Culture and Innovation focused on the "need to manage the tourist tax that will help us reverse the benefits of tourism and compensate the neighborhoods that bear a heavier burden," and recalled that "despite the problems of tourism management, 86% of citizens think it is beneficial for the city, although half warn that we have reached the limits."
For his part, the Councilor for Enterprise and Tourism, Agustí Colom, took part in the Roundtable "More sustainable and resilient tourist cities and climate commitment". In his participation, Colom highlighted the new paradigm in the management of tourism in Barcelona, and said that "now is the time to align governance with tourism and to overcome the stage that Barcelona has experienced where governance was raised and in parallel an intensive promotion as a tourist destination ".
"In a short time the city has entered the dimension of mass tourism, and now we have to make effective policies to maintain a city with mixed uses, where tourism is sustainable, but like other activities that are given to the city, if they are not sustainable, they will not continue" proceeded the councilman."Barcelona is not a city that has been built for tourists," Colom riveted, "and if we are not able to balance it will eventually create a social and economic divide."
The conference was attended by experts in sustainable tourism, climate, innovation and coexistence, among others, as well as representatives of local governments and agents and operators of the sector to discuss strategies and measures to achieve sustainable tourism. Organized by the Barcelona City Council in collaboration with the Barcelona Provincial Council, the Catalan Tourism Agency and the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), the Conference was placed on the agenda of the United Nations, which declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, in which cities constitute a priority field for the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The International Conference closed with the reading of the "Barcelona Declaration" and the "Barcelona Memorandum", documents that reflect the commitments and strategic lines agreed by the participants and to which all cities committed to sustainable tourism can join.
During the Closing Session, Tomás Azcárate, President of the Responsible Tourism Institute, pointed out that "sustainability is no longer an option, but an irreplaceable bet" for cities with tourism, and has identified as challenges "integrating tourism sociallly, economically and culturally, and take responsibility for reducing its environmental impacts. "
At the same time, Azcárate stressed the importance of the documents resulting from the Conference, both the "Barcelona Declaration" and the "Barcelona Memorandum". These were agreed by experts in sustainable tourism, climate, innovation and coexistence, representatives of local governments and agents and operators of the sector, who discussed strategies and measures to achieve sustainable tourism in the Cities; as well as by the International Scientific Council of the Responsible Tourism Institute itself. He also emphasized the importance of working for "a paradigm shift of urban tourism towards the adoption of new commitments, and to do so through a governance that ensures the participation of all stakeholders and therefore also incorporates citizens" . For the president, "sustainability is no longer an option, but an irreplaceable commitment".
If you want to check all the information about the Conference (thematic areas, program, etc.), click on this link.
The conference was organized by the Barcelona City Council in collaboration with the Barcelona Provincial Council , the Catalan Tourism Agency and the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI). It is on the agenda of the United Nations, which has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, in which cities constitute a priority field for the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.