Title: Tourism in Barcelona: Slowing Down to Survive

The annual tourism congress in Barcelona took place earlier this week. The focus of the discussions was on a new direction that prioritizes quality over quantity.
As summer holidays approach in Barcelona, tourism sector leaders gathered to find solutions to overtourism. The annual conference of industry professionals, titled “What’s next,” welcomed over 600 representatives on Monday, June 10.
Joining them in conferences and roundtable discussions were Mayor Jaume Collboni, Tourism Minister Jordi Hereu, Barcelona’s Director General of Tourism Mateu Hernández, and Judith Carrerase, the director of the CCCB (Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona).
“Reorienting the tourist strategy towards excellence and quality”
Optimism and quality were the key themes of this day of reflection, during which the tourism consortium and official representatives agreed on the need for a radical change in managing tourist flows.
Instead of continuing its rapid expansion and tourism development, the city will now focus on improving the existing offerings. Specifically, professionals want to “reorient the tourism strategy towards excellence and quality, not quantity” by decentralizing, destaggering, and digitalizing the sector. To achieve this, Mateu Hernández proposes using artificial intelligence to become a guide on what to do, where to do it, and when to do it, allowing for better visitor management.
Mateu Hernández also mentioned the need to provide demanding cultural offerings by developing festivals and exhibitions. The city council added that the upcoming America’s Cup is an example of an excellent event that will attract the “right” tourists, those who “respect and appreciate the destination and its way of life.” And Minister Jordi Hereu reminded that events of this caliber, like the 1992 Olympic Games, have in the past changed the Catalan city for the better.
Making Barcelona residents proud of their city
In a somewhat unprecedented move, institutional representatives and the consortium reflected on the pride of residents and their well-being in relation to the issue. A crucial condition for the smooth running of tourism, explained Judith Carrera: “I see no incompatibility in working with the local and international public, but our priority is local; we work for the citizens of Barcelona and its metropolitan area.”
In summary, the city’s new momentum focuses on respecting locals and promoting quality tourism. To support these initiatives, the city will soon launch a website “Visit Barcelona” and prepare a new advertising campaign “Barcelona, a natural host.”
Do these promises signal the end of overtourism? With major popular events on the horizon such as the F1 show at the end of June and the America’s Cup in August (expected to attract over 2 million people), it is not certain that we will immediately see the effects of these new guidelines.

Lucille Souron
Previously with Le Nouvel Observateur in Paris and the TV show La Grande Librairie, a graduate of the Sorbonne, Lucille Souron is a journalist at Equinox.