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A Different Kind of Tourism (IT In Transit #16)

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Data: May 2013.

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  • 1. A Different Kind of Tourism A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 Situated in the space that connects the peninsula with the continent, Catalonia has acted as a gateway for civilizations, ideas, revolutions and new periods. And also for tourists. With more than 14 million international visitors, Catalonia each year hosts the equivalent of two times the number of tourists to Morocco or three times the tourists to Brazil. The coast is the country’s main destination. Today the zigzags of the “wild coast” of the Costa Brava or the long sandy beaches of the Costa Daurada are still the principal tourist attractions of the country. Barcelona has made up for the lost years and in the wake of the euphoria of the 1992 Olympics it has been setting records. The Catalan capital has placed itself in the top ten of European tourist cities and it has achieved a privileged place in the competitive mental map of world tourist destinations. This is why, still today, the Mediterranean coast and the city of Barcelona explain a great deal about the country’s tourism success. But not all of it. In the shadow of these tourism skyscrapers alternative and relatively unknown tourism spaces are starting to develop. They are successful experiments in new forms of tourism, an alchemy of territory, landscape, itineraries, identity and tourism innovation. Some of the keys to our county’s tourism today can be found throughout these new leisure spaces. Catalan gastronomy and enology are experiencing a golden age, and the recognition of El Bulli or the Celler de Can Roca are only the most visible part of a process that is slowly cooking just beneath the surface. We can see a reflection of this process in the construction of enotourism spaces in the Priorat, the Penedès or in the Empordà. As if in an attempt to erase any trace of phylloxera, the epidemic that devastated the vineyards in Catalonia in the late 19th century, the abandoned viticultural landscapes have been recovered and are experiencing a high level of production. Now, the new wine cellars have opened their doors to the curious eyes of visitors, and this has allowed them to create enotourism routes that have a very high tourism potential, especially in the Priorat, but also in the Penedès. Gastronomy has also become an ally of tourism, thanks to the Mediterranean diet having been declared a World CulturalHeritagebyUNESCO.Thegastronomiccampaignshavehadagreatdealofsuccessinattractingtourists and they have also led to a recovery of traditional cuisines mixed with innovation. This initiative is happening along the coast (the prawns of Palamós, the garoina —sea urchin— of Palafrugell) as well as in the interior (the “volcanic” cuisine of the Garrotxa, the cuisine of Bages). Catalan gastronomy is further strengthened by the Fundació Alícia (Alícia Foundation), a research center located in the heart of Catalonia, in the Món Sant Benet, and by the project of the El Bulli Foundation, which will soon be one of the most important culinary innovation centers on the planet. And don’t miss the architectural genius of the complex, designed by the Catalan architect Ruiz-Geli. Just a sampling: at the El Bulli Foundation, the trees will regulate all the parameters of the building complex, from the intensity of the light to the temperature. Then there are the nature itineraries, another important driver of tourism. Itinerànnia is a network of more than 2,500 kilometers of hiking trails in three Catalan regions that allows people to walk from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean through a mosaic of landscapes and contrasts: wetlands, volcanoes, mountain lakes, cliffs. At the end of the tour is the Cap de Creus, which has witnessed a brilliant exercise in landscape recovery: the old Club Mediterranée complex, a blight on the natural landscape, has been replaced with a impressive “stone” path. Nonetheless, the biking projects that are scattered throughout the territory are even more significant. It all began with the vies verdes, or greenways, a restoration project of the traces of the old railway track of the “little trains”, or carrilets (narrow-gauge railways), and their stations. Just one example: more than a million users each year travel the 100 kilometers that the separate the cities of Olot and Sant Feliu de Guíxols, united by an uninterrupted green line. And this is only an example. Pirinexus is a route between Catalonia and Northern Catalonia that gives cyclists access to more than 350 kilometers of high mountain terrain. Surrounding the Natural Park of Aigüestortes, Pedals de Foc (“Pedals of Fire”) has created a cycling tourism product that has been exported to various countries. And finally, we should mention the big cultural projects in Catalonia’s interior. The triangle that unites Poblet, Santes Creus and Vallbona de les Monges is one of the territories with the highest concentration of Cistercian monasteries in Europe. The small Romanesque churches of the Vall de Boí, a World Heritage Site, offer relatively unknown variations on a same esthetic idea. And the impressive Renaixença complex of the Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria d’Escaladei is a reminder of the vibrant history of the Priorat region. In addition to their value as heritage sites, these places stand out for their museography and for their unique ways they have made their local resources attractive to tourism. José Antonio Donaire seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter EDITORIAL
  • 2. Lastly, we should mention the small local projects, some of which have enormous potential, such as the geological tourism of the Pallars region, the serene landscapes of the Lluçanès (inspired by Slow tourism), the itineraries of industrial tourism, the ethnographic heritage of the western Pyrenées... Catalonia will continue to be a tourist destination that revolves around two main poles, the coast and the city of Barcelona. But beyond the numbers and statistics, this country is a laboratory of new tourism experiments of high value. It is probable that in the coming years this constellation of innovative spaces will have enough critical mass to partially offset the country’s principal tourism drivers. José Antonio Donaire Benito is a professor of Geography in the Department of Tourism at the University of Girona. Photo by Margaret Luppino Translated from Catalan by Margaret Luppino
  • 3. Catalonia and Barcelona back responsible tourism: ‘Better places to live, better places to visit’ A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 From 1 to 4 October 2013, the International Conference on Responsible Tourism will be held for the first time in Europe. Catalonia is the country chosen to host the event this year and it will take place in Barcelona. The conference, organised jointly by the International Center for Responsible Tourism, directed by Professor Harold Goodwin, and the Responsible Tourism Observatory run by Turisme Sant Ignasi (Ramon Llull University), under the direction of Jordi Ficapal, will take place at TSI-Turisme Sant Ignasi and ESADEFORUM, and will enjoy institutional support from the Government of Catalonia’s Directorate-General for Tourism and the Catalan Tourist Board, Barcelona City Council, the Turisme de Barcelona Consortium and Barcelona Provincial Council. The conference will deal with best practices and the challenges still facing responsible destinations. At the same time, with a view to encouraging and disseminating best practices in the Catalan tourism sector, the first Catalonia Responsible Tourism Awards will be presented to companies or government bodies demonstrating best practices in a number of categories. To explain the concept of responsible tourism we will begin by distinguishing it from the concept of sustainable tourism. First of all, sustainable tourism gained importance in the 1980s with the publication of the Brundtland report Our Common Future (1987), which defined sustainable development as: ‘Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The concept was created and spread with a pronounced environmental focus. Although in recent years it has been redefined to include social and economic dimensions, its popular image remains largely linked to respect for the environment. Comparing sustainable tourism and responsible tourism, we can see that the former is a more abstract and generic concept, while the latter is more concerned with its application. Sustainable tourism thus consists of a series of principles that responsible tourism interprets and applies in a particular context in a tourist destination. Responsible tourism is about ‘making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit’. The concept was defined in Cape Town in 2002 at the time of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. This definition, known as the Cape Town Declaration, is now widely accepted and has been adopted by World Responsible Tourism Day, marked each year since 2007, at the World Travel Market in London. The declaration recognises that responsible tourism has many forms, that the destinations and parties involved have different priorities, and that local policies and guidelines should be developed through processes of cooperation between stakeholders in the development of responsible tourism in destinations. Responsible tourism celebrates diversity and recognises that, while destinations can learn from what has been done elsewhere, the solutions are local and call for the participation of a unique combination of parties involved. The problems and priorities vary from one place to another and, as a result, solutions that respond to the particular characteristics of each area are more likely to be successful. These characteristics define places and communities, making them different from where we live and encouraging travel and tourism. Responsible tourism, far from being a type of tourism, is thus a crosscutting methodology that consists of applying to destinations and tourism products certain principles, criteria and guidelines for action that bring benefits both for the host community and for tourism. Responsible tourism is, therefore, tourism that: 1. Minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts. 2. Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the wellbeing of host communities. 3. Involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances. 4. Makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, embracing diversity. 5. Provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues. 6. Provides access for physically challenged people. 7. Is culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence. Generalitat de Catalunya - Ministry of Enterprise and Labor seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  • 4. In short, responsible tourism, unlike sustainable tourism, necessarily emphasises the fact that all those involved in tourism—operators, hotel owners, government bodies, local residents and tourists—should assume responsibility for what concerns them and adopt measures to make tourism a more sustainable activity. International responsible tourism conferences discuss and examine the measures taken by the parties involved to deal with the social, economic and environmental problems related to sustainability in different destinations. Each actor has a part to play. In tourist destinations, tourists and local communities interact in the local natural and socio-cultural environment. Tourism there needs to be managed in order to minimise negative impacts and maximise positive ones. The management of tourism in destinations should not be reduced to an environmental agenda: it is very important to consider social and economic questions that arise, even though these make management more complex and even controversial. South Africa was the first country to adopt an explicit responsible tourism strategy, challenging the parties involved to take responsibility for developing forms of tourism that would take advantage of the new South Africa. The first International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations was held in Cape Town in August 2002, bringing together 280 delegates from 20 countries who passed the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, which laid the foundations for the movement. To date there have been seven editions of the International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, and they have been held annually since 2008. Each edition of the conference has been organised by a local body, with a representative of the destination acting as co-chair with Dr Harold Goodwin, the leading exponent of responsible tourism. Those attending the conferences come from very varied backgrounds and include international and inter- governmental organisations, national and local government bodies, tourism companies, hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, guides, planners and architects, consultants and the staff of development agencies, and the media. The second conference was held in Kerala, India, in 2008, with 503 delegates from 29 countries, culminating in the Kerala Declaration on the role of those involved in tourism. In 2009 it was held in Belize, with 250 participants from 19 countries. The Belize Declaration focused on cruises, second homes, climate change, local economic development and the impact of tourism in coastal areas. Oman hosted the 2010 conference, which centred on establishing credentials and relationships for the development of responsible tourism in the country. It was attended by 380 people from 34 countries. In 2011 the event moved to Alberta, Canada, where the subjects dealt with were accessible tourism, polar tourism, indigenous tourism, governance and local economic development. In Canada a Youth Conference was included for the first time. The last conference was in 2012, just before Rio+20, in São Paulo, Brazil, and considered progress made and what had been learnt since 1992, based on the themes dealt with in Rio de Janeiro in 1992: the environment and development. In October 2013, the International Conference on Responsible Tourism will be held in Europe for the first time. Catalonia and Barcelona are privileged to have been chosen to host the event. The conference is organised by the Responsible Tourism Observatory run by TSI-Turisme Sant Ignasi (Ramon Llull University) and the International Center for Responsible Tourism, with institutional support from the Government of Catalonia’s Directorate-General for Tourism and the Catalan Tourist Board, Barcelona City Council, Turisme de Barcelona and Barcelona Provincial Council. Together they demonstrate the commitment of our institutions to the development of Catalonia and Barcelona as destinations which are ‘better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit’, each agency accepting its role in the process of building responsible tourism. The first day of the conference will have an academic focus with discussion of research into responsible tourism and the ethics of tourism and hospitality, while the second will feature an optional trip to L’Estartit and Torroella de Montgrí to learn about an initiative for the conservation and regeneration of a tourist destination. The main event will take place on 3 and 4 October at ESADEFORUM (Barcelona), with sessions aimed at the tourism sector and the industry. Discussion will centre on five themes: 1. Taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of tourism. 2. The role of government in destination planning and management. 3. The sense of place in historic cities, local communities, authenticity and the visitor experience. 4. Widening social participation in tourism: access for all. 5. Managing cruise tourism in the Mediterranean. With a view to encouraging and disseminating best practices in the Catalan tourism sector, the first Catalonia Responsible Tourism Awards will be presented to companies or government bodies in the following categories: Small hotels (under 24 beds); large hotels (over 24 beds); contribution to the local economy; accessibility; socially inclusive tourism; responsible excursions; responsible management of cultural heritage; natural heritage and environment protection. For further information please see the www.rtd7.org website, visit the RTD7 Facebook page or follow the conference on Twitter at: @RTD_7, #RTD7, @goodwinhj and @jordificapal. Jordi Ficapal Mestres Director of the Responsible Tourism Observatory - Co-chair RTD7 Barcelona-Catalonia TSI – Turisme Sant Ignasi (Ramon Llull University) Mireia Guix Navarrete Responsible Tourism Observatory - Technical Coordinator RTD7 Barcelona-Catalonia TSI – Turisme Sant Ignasi (Ramon Llull University)
  • 5. Tourism in Catalonia Considerations on the way to a true industry A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 If one considers the growing importance of tourism in terms of wealth and job creation, we can see how its specific weight in Catalonia is more than 11% of GDP and 13% of employment, while it is also the driving force behind a number of other related economic subsectors (agriculture, manufacturing industries, construction, transport, business services, cultural industries, trade and more). It is the cross-sectional nature inherent in tourism that makes it an object of recurring demands for promotion and investment by different government agencies, as well as business groups in the sector, agents and representative consortiums. At the same time, it is surprising how a major economic and social activity, which has existed as a mass, specialist, seasonal industry in Catalonia for 50 years, has developed historically with relatively little support from the governments and, above all, with no decisive and systematic policies in term of orientation, planning, organisation and promotion. Firstly, it is clear that the tourism industry and its business-generation capacity based on the convergence of favourable factors deserves praise, as it has made our sun and sand a desirable environment for the emerging demands of the new European middle classes since the 1960s. It made the most of a number of opportunities, using its strengths to create an original holiday destination and a highly price-competitive offer of leisure activities. It is in the stages after the mass growth of tourism on our coast that the lack of planning and organisation of activities has become clear, exposing certain parts of the tourism sector to trends, inertias and vices that are difficult to overcome and manage. After decades of a Fordist, supply-driven tourism market, Catalonia now has hotel facilities that in some areas are showing their obsolescence and, what is worse, show the results of a progressive dynamic of bad practices on the part of some travel agencies, often acting as predators of environment, cultural and territorial resources, compromising the very survival of parts of some destinations. Today, in Catalan holiday destinations there are certain tourism businesses that are struggling to survive in market conditions radically different from those that enabled them to develop. In any case, the context of the current economic crisis and its contribution to accelerating change heightens the urgent need for new approaches to revitalise the more mature productive tourism sectors, enabling them to better meet new demands, with the aim of facing the more intense competition and challenges arising from transformations in the tourism industry value chain. The evolution of the concept of tourist destination: from the concentration of supply to focus on demand The concepts of the tourism industry have developed as tourism has started to consolidate its position as a major economic and social phenomenon. If one briefly examines how the concept of tourist destinations [1] has developed over recent years one can trace a historic thread that has produced various approaches by the administrations and has defined the challenges faced by agents in the sector on the way towards a true industry: • In the first stage of development, from the 1960s to the end of the 1980s, the tourist destination was conceived as a set of basic accommodation and catering services creating a tourism space around a given product. This was a productive specialisation in supplying tourism services, where location was decisive. In this respect the destination served to concentrate supply. Thus, tourists have to travel to the place or destination that attempts to provide the necessary attractions to meet their needs. Tourist activity is highly vacational and seasonal, dominated to a great extent by the working and middle class seeking greater quality of life. • During the second stage of evolution, from the 1990s onwards, due to tourism’s growing importance, the destination widened in meaning to include a set of services that facilitate and promote tourist activity. The horizontal nature of tourist activity and its economic impact highlighted the importance of meeting the challenges of mobility, infrastructure, facilities, urban planning, trade, transport and more. In this sense, the destination, without abandoning the idea of specialisation in supply, extended its territorial vision and included needs that appear to be outside the scope of tourism as strictly defined, but which are decisive in increasing competitiveness. In this stage, the destination was a territory that provided support for logistic activities and services while having to reconcile tourist practices in the industry with the basic product (sun and sand, mountains, city, the countryside). In this sense, approaches that consider conserving environmental resources began to gain influence. With this concept, the keys to competitiveness involve making it easier for demand to hire the services and reach the destination under good terms of quality and price (promotion and marketing, airport, road and port links, and other factors). • Finally, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, as a result of the social, economic and cultural transformations inherent in the new knowledge society, the concept of destination has moved closer to demand, Francesc Iglesies - Catalan International View - Summer 2010 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  • 6. in the sense that, apart from the territorial component, which is the tourism product itself, other aspects such as identity and cultural tourism have become crucial, in its broadest sense2, intangible and emotional factors and the ability to live new experiences3. In this current stage, the consolidation of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the tourism industry value chain generate the overwhelming need to manage the avalanche of information that surrounds the decision to purchase in order to design products that meet the needs of a micro-segmented demand, in which ICTs play a key role. Here, the paradigm of tourism competitiveness centres on innovation and sustainability, understood in the triple sense of economic and social, cultural and environmental and a capacity to generate unique and authentic offers. The stages of tourism administration of the Government of Catalonia Alongside this process, from the perspective of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, the work of encouraging tourism was almost limited exclusively to promotion, from the 1980s onwards. It involved a primitive tourism industry, geared towards leisure holidays, which based its competitiveness on price and climate. In this context, the general organisation of the sector had clearly been overlooked, tacitly choosing a model of tourism laissez faire, as illustrated by the fact that the first general tourism organisation act was not passed until 2002 [4]. Following the abovementioned historical thread, the essential task of tourism administration was based on guaranteeing minimum regulations for accommodation and catering and the huge task of communicating and promoting the tourism offer through the creation of the Turisme de Catalunya Consortium in 1986. The Barcelona Olympic Games represented a major boost for tourism in the city, providing Catalonia with a major tourist centre, adding the city of Barcelona, as a cultural, business and city break tourism product, to the holiday sun and sand tourism and the snow of the Pyrenees and the Vall d’Aran. In this sense, the decision in 1995 to create the consortium structure of Turisme de Barcelona represented a milestone in the commitment to co-responsibility between the public and private sectors in managing tourism promotion, and the task of lobbying for the sector to introduce tourist activity within the space and daily life of the city. This innovation in managing promotion was followed up by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia with the conversion of the Promoció Turística de Catalunya Consortium into the Turisme de Catalunya Consortium, a promotional body attached to the Tourism Directorate General, even though private co-responsibility was inexistent. If we examine the development of tourism, the growth since the mid-1990s is evident, as illustrated by data on tourist arrivals and port and airport traffic to Barcelona, Girona and Reus, with the consequent impact of low-cost airlines on air traffic. There are also other key factors, such as the deseasonalisation of demand beyond leisure holidays and the consequent increase in journeys with the reduction in accommodation at the destination. In this regard, the arrival of new information technologies has transformed habits of consumption, promotion and marketing, while there has been a growing increase in the value of rural tourism, culture, business tourism and cuisine. In this context, the change of government in 2003 saw the start of a new stage in the public management of tourism, being the result of actions to meet the challenges in an industry that has grown dramatically, involving the implementation of the first general tourism organisation act in the history of the country. The Catalonia Strategic Tourism Plan 2005-2010: a new agenda for tourism The response to the challenge resulted in the consensus definition of the Catalonia Strategic Tourism Plan (PETC) 2005-2010, which was conceived as an unprecedented ‘road map’ jointly for government agencies and the private sector. This was the first of its kind in both Catalonia and Europe, and was conceived as a document to provide a comprehensive and cross-sector analysis and diagnosis of tourism and its challenges and determining factors within the scope of a specific country. The idea of the ‘road map’ was justified by the fact that it was conceived not just as a tool for the Catalan Government’s tourism authority, but was also aimed at all administrations in the territory with responsibility for tourism, at other government ministries with responsibility for areas relevant to tourism, and, above all, the private tourism sector, as a shared agenda to be developed. The structuring of the PETC into 10 programmes and 48 actions has been the overall driving force for the actions of the Directorate General for Tourism and Turisme de Catalunya since 2005 and, above all, has inspired the direction of a number of policies of the ministry currently responsible [5], beyond the boundaries of responsibility strictly for tourism, such as Gastroteca or Artesania de Catalunya, as initiatives run by the Trade DG.
  • 7. Although the PETC did not define the operational aspects of its programmes and actions in terms of a schedule and budget, it set a number of concepts and challenges that have been decisive in the Government of Catalonia’s influence on the success of its tourist activity, given that Catalonia was for the first time conceived as a complete tourist destination. TheinspiringprinciplesandaxesofthePETCaredefinedinatourismmodelbasedonsustainability,innovation, focus on demand, territorial balance and collaboration, and cooperation and coordination between public and private agents. Among the action programmes, without providing an exhaustive analysis which lies outside the scope of this article, are such key aspects as the need to coordinate policies in the areas of responsibility of other government ministries [6], the importance of strengthening the Catalonia brand [7], the definition of territorial product creation plans, the creation of the Catalan Tourism Agency, the creation of the Catalan Tourism Observatory as a tool to obtain intelligence on tourism, moving forward in legislative modernisation and administrative simplification, improving quality, improving tourist information and, in general, raising awareness and increasing the degree to which tourism is valued among Catalan society. The success of the PETC lies in the decision to prioritise certain aspects of the agenda, which has created the need to move beyond the plan itself, as some programmes have been overtaken by circumstances and have exceeded supply through the implementation of their policies and actions. In this sense, the tourism authority itself, consisting of the Directorate General for Tourism (DGT) and the Turisme de Catalunya (TC) promotion consortium, has changed its structure and internal organisation in order to focus more on the joint needs of the tourism industry defined in the PETC. Firstly, Turisme de Cataluna set up the Catalan Tourism Agency (ACT) [8] with the aim of building wider co-responsibility in the private sector, under the principles of co-decision making and co-financing, and providing it with greater involvement in the promotion and marketing of the tourist industry and Catalonia as a destination. Secondly, the Directorate General for Tourism developed a new Sub-directorate General for Tourism Planning, to meet the needs for the design, promotion and creation of the tourism product contained in the PETC [9]. It is worth mentioning that the PETC itself has been exceeded in this context, providing a much fuller response to the actions as they were defined and has successfully influenced the desire to organise and integrate the development of tourism with the demands of the target public and the territory’s capacity and potential. The success of the PETC is due to a qualitative factor, as it has acted as the guidelines for everyone working in tourism both inside and outside Catalonia and because it has set a sufficiently ambitious precedent to continue along the route of making tourism the strategic consideration that it deserves to be, as one of the country’s economic driving forces and a factor for territorial balance. Finally, going beyond the current PETC, the government’s tourism authority is working to define new challenges for 2011-2014 that must be included by Catalan destinations in the new trends outlined in tourism after the first major worldwide crisis in the industry, and which demand new proposals in terms of innovation and sustainability, in its triple sense of identity, economics and environment, in order to reinforce attractiveness, quality, competitiveness, territorial balance and social and economic profitability. Franscec Iglesies graduated in economics from the University of Barcelona (UB), 1995, and earned a PhD in Economic Theory Research in the Faculty of Economics and Entrepreneurship of the UB, 1996- 1998. University lecturer at the University of Vic (UVic - Barcelona) and the University of Barcelona, on the Sociology of Labor, Business Administration and Social Economics. Member of UVic’s research group in tourism. He was the tourism and trade advisor to the Minister of the Department of Trade, Tourism and Consumption of the Government of Catalonia, 2004-2007. Since 2007 he has been the Tourism Strategy Planner of the Catalan Tourist Board in the General Directorate of Tourism of the Government of Catalonia. Photo by Margaret Luppino [1] CHIAS (2004) et al. El papel de las motivaciones del turista en la formación de la imagen de destino turístico. XVII Encuentro de profesores universitarios de marketing. Pages 673-688 Madrid, 22nd and 23rd September 2005. [2] Cultural tourism in the broad sense of the word includes cuisine, architecture, history, wine tourism, art, design, handicrafts and more, as cultural expressions of the host community. [3] Walmsley, D J and Young, M Evaluative Images and Tourism: The Use of Personal Constructs to Describe the Structure of Destinations’ Images, Journal of Travel Research, vol. 36, no 3, page 65. 1998. [4] In the context of Spain, the autonomous communities that passed general tourism organisation acts before Catalonia (2002) were: the Basque Country (1994), the Canary Islands (1995), Castile-León, Galicia and Extremadura (1997), Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, Madrid, Aragon, Castile-La Mancha and Cantabria (1999); La Rioja (2001). [5] The Ministry of Innovation, Universities and Enterprise. Previously, responsibility for tourism had switched between the ministries that were also responsible for consumer affairs and/or industry. [6] The Ministries of Culture, Territorial Policy and Public Works, Agriculture or Environment. [7] Catalonia has 10 territorial tourist brands (Girona-Costa Brava, Costa Daurada, Terres de Lleida, Barcelona, Pirineus, Vall d’Aran, Catalunya Central, Terres de l’Ebre, Costa de Barcelona-Maresme and Garraf). [8] The Catalan Tourism Agency was founded by law in December 2007 and came into force on January 2010, once its articles of incorporation had been approved in December 2009. [9] The creation of long national routes (the Way of Saint James of Galicia, the Pyrenean Counties Route), the network of Tourist Welcome Centres and in general identity-based product creation engineering.
  • 8. Catalonia, a Tourist Country ‘A country’s international prestige is directly related to its prestige as a tourist country’. Antoni Muntanyola: L’organització turística de Catalunya [Tourism Organisation in Catalonia], Barcelona, 1932. A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 Introduction: milestones in the development of Catalan tourism This article briefly reviews the historical development of tourism in Catalonia, understood as an important productive sector in the context of the country’s economic structure, both in terms of contribution to GDP and the generation of employment, and also seen as a factor for innovation and territorial balance. Aside from this role as an economic driving force, tourism is very valuable socially and culturally in as far as it allows access to relaxation and holidays and becomes a powerfultoolfortheexchangeofcultureandknowledge between peoples. It must be said from the start that tourism in Catalonia has a long tradition, which is not always recognised and sufficiently valued. The fact is that, at the beginning of the 20th century, there were already excellent resorts in Catalonia, such as Sitges or S’Agaró, as well as the city of Barcelona, which were compared with the prestigious destinations of the French Côte Bleue and the Italian Riviera. Later, various governments of Catalonia, first the Commonwealth of Catalonia (1914-1923) and then the Republican Government (1931-1939),undertook a tourism planning policy that would be cut short by the Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco’s dictatorship. Finally, the tourism boom of the second half of the 20th century arrived, during which Catalonia and the rest of the peninsular Mediterranean coast became one of the top world destinations for sun and sand tourism. In summary: from a practical point of view, three stages can be distinguished in the history of Catalan tourism development: 1) The first stage with the forerunners or predecessors of modern tourism, occupying almost the entire history of the country, but in the strictest sense running from the end of the 18th century to the last third of the 19th century. 2) The second stage considered as the full development of elitist, aristocratic and bourgeois tourism which, in the case that concerns us, broadly covers the period from the last third of the 19th century to the first third of the 20th century. During the last part of the period, the first social visions of tourism appear. 3) The third stage begins after the parentheses of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the Second World War (1939-1945), with the appearance of mass tourism and the consolidation of Catalonia and the peninsular Mediterranean coast as one of the great destinations of European tourism. It hardly needs be said that the development of tourism in Catalonia has also been conditioned by some highly favourable geographic circumstances. In this sense, the country’s strategic location, on the Pyrenean isthmus; its situation as a corridor with a triple orientation: European, Iberian and Mediterranean; and its diversity of landscapes, should be highlighted. Many travellers from all periods and origins have highlighted the Mediterranean character of the country, the good climate, the luminosity of the landscape and, in general, the Mediterranean features which, in and of themselves, make Catalonia very suitable for tourism. Many travellers also stress the original character of the country, the existence of its own language and the way the Catalans themselves have historically upheld their own identity. Generally, the country has been explained in different ways depending on the period. During the 18th century, enlightened travellers came to construct a true ‘white legend’ about Catalonia; by contrast, during the 19th century, the country was often seen as a wild, inhospitable environment, immersed in endless fratricidal wars. From the distant predecessors to the appearance of the romantic tourism of the 19th century The predecessors for modern tourism must be situated in the period of Enlightenment of the 18th century and the appearance of romantic tourism in the first half of the 19th. This is the period of the ‘Grand Tour’, which all English gentlemen had to embark on to discover the world, and also the era of the enlightened travellers of the 18th century, who were to have their counterparts in the romantic travellers of the 19th. They were times when tourism, understood in a broad sense, developed quickly alongside growing industrialisation and the appearance of fast, efficient forms of transport, such as steamships and railways. For many enlightened travellers passing through Catalonia, the country was seen as an exception within Spain; they usually highlight the hardworking nature of the Catalans, the wealth and power of Barcelona and a relative situation of opulence and wellbeing. Examples, can be found in the writings of two authors of the time: the Englishman Arthur Young (1787) and the Castilian Francisco de Zamora (1785-1790). When the 19th century arrived, the romantic travellers fixed the types and trends of bourgeois tourism, along with more than a few national stereotypes. These were times when Greece and Italy (from Tuscany and Venice to Sicily) became fashionable, and when stereotypical Spanish characteristics were established by writers, travellers and artists like the Englishman Richard Ford (1796-1858), the Frenchman Alexandre de Laborde (1773-1842) and the American Washington Irving (1783-1859). The common denominator of their writings Jaume Font - Catalan International View - Summer 2010 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  • 9. (and those of others like Prosper de Merimée) is the exotic, orientalist charm of the Spanish south, particularly Andalusia. In this context, Catalonia and Barcelona are hardly noticed, as they are a long way from these Spanish stereotypes that have lasted to the present day. When they do speak of Catalonia, many travellers, by contrast, underline the wild nature of the region and its inhabitants, stubbornly fighting endless civil wars, about which well-known figures such as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote sensationalist reports. From the emergence of bourgeois tourism in the 19th century to the appearance of social tourism The stage of full development of aristocratic and bourgeois tourism broadly falls, between the last third of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th. In Catalonia, the outstanding milestones during this stage are the two big universal exhibitions in Barcelona, in 1888 and 1929. These were times when there were constant improvements to the means of communication and transport, increasingly facilitating the expansion of tourism. It is the period of the great transatlantic liners, such as the famous Titanic, and of luxury trains, such as the legendary Orient Express described by Agatha Christie, culminating in the appearance of the car and of air transport at the beginning of the 20th century. In Catalonia, the improvement in transport had a notable effect on the development of tourism. Aside from Barcelona, which received a great boost from hosting the universal exhibition of 1888, the first Catalan tourist destinations were established during the last third of the 19th century. This is the case with Sitges, which was very well connected to Barcelona by rail and which became an intellectual and artistic focal point, with the Art Nouveau gatherings promoted by Santiago Rusiñol. The Barcelona bourgeoisie, in particular, made the spas and the first summer holiday centres fashionable, both on the coast and in the nearby Pyrenees. This is the case with La Garriga, Caldes de Montbui, Caldes de Malavella and Sant Hilari Sacalm, mountain villages like Camprodon and Puigcerdà and coastal resorts like Calella, Blanes and Lloret de Mar. With the arrival of the 20th century, the first investments were made aimed at attracting international tourism, with the construction of the Hostal de la Gavina complex at S’Agaró, while the Costa Brava was christened as a tourist branding exercise (1909). In those days, the Costa Brava shamelessly imitated the French Côte Bleue, while S’Agaró advertised itself on posters as a ‘sunny winter resort’. The administration’s interest in tourism gradually increased. From the beginning, local institutions set up Societats d’Atracció de Forasters (Foreign Tourism Attraction Societies) and, later, the Sindicats d’Iniciativa (Tourist Information Bureaus), of French origin, particularly in destinations which had begun to stand out, such as Lloret de Mar. Tourism policy was given a decided boost by the recovered institutions of Catalan self-government: the Commonwealth of Catalonia between 1914 and 1924 and the Republican Government between 1931 and 1939. Despite their brief duration, the two institutions carried out notable tourism planning work. The Commonwealth well understood tourism’s role as an economic driving force and determinedly promoted it. In those days, the car was beginning to play an outstanding role in tourist expansion (the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia was established in 1906), and this encouraged the Commonwealth to establish inns located at strategic points on roads in the Pyrenees, such as the La Bonaigua Pass and Collada de Toses. These were the immediate predecessors of the Spanish paradors, or roadside hotels. In turn, the Republican Government undertook a decided policy of tourism planning and promotion through the Catalan Tourist Board (OTC). The management of the Tourist Board was entrusted to Ignasi Armengou (1895-1954), who ran it effectively, and the quality of the posters and promotional material it published were outstanding. In fact, it was a period in which there was an awareness that tourism had to be developed carefully, with criteria that we would now call sustainability, organisation and territorial balance. This is well reflected in Antoni Muntanyola’s work, L’organització turística de Catalunya (The Organisation of Tourism in Catalonia), of 1932, which describes the country’s huge tourism potential, compares it to that of other European countries and ends by putting forward a model for the organisation and management of Catalan tourism. That same year, the GATCPAC architects formulated the Ciutat de repòs i de vacances (City of Relaxation and Holidays) project, linked to working-class leisure and holidays, which was a pioneering step in the field of social tourism. Unfortunately, the work of the Republican Government was cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War and the imposition of Franco’s dictatorship, as it was a model effort in many senses. Among other consequences, the dictatorship would lead to the exile of many of the professionals who had promoted the tourism policy of the Republican Government, including Ignasi Armengou, the director of the Catalan Tourist Board. It is probable that, had there been democracy and had the country been able to rely on professionals of his calibre, the chaotic tourism model of desarrollismo (structuralist economics) would not have become established. The expansion of mass tourism during the sixties and seventies Tourism’s third stage begins after the parentheses of the Civil War (1936-1939) and the Second World War (1939-1945). The Marshall Plan and the European economic miracle would allow a spectacular development of mass tourism in Catalonia, Spain and Europe. This was basically due to the increase in living standards and the consolidation of the welfare state in Western Europe, with practically universal access to paid holidays for European workers. It is a stage characterised by unprecedented exponential growth in mass tourism. It starts with the Stabilisation Plan of 1959, which represents the adoption by the Spanish Government of an orthodox monetary policy and the acceptance of the recommendations of international economic bodies concerning the orientation of economic growth towards innovative sectors such as industry and tourism, rather than Franco’s obsession with agriculture. This change of orientation would continue through the promulgation of successive ‘development plans’ and would, among other consequences, lead to the beginning of an unprecedented rural exodus and start off the Spanish tourism boom. It was a boom brought about, among other factors, by the improvement in air transport, the establishment of charter flights and the construction of the Mediterranean corridor motorway, from La Jonquera to Alicante, which would become one of the great European tourist corridors. All this growth was carried out without planning and without the democratic control of local councils and institutions. These were times of laissez-faire, leading to the massive occupation of the Catalan coast. This is the case with certain sectors of the Costa Brava, the Costa Daurada and the Barcelona coast (El Maresme and
  • 10. El Garraf); only the coast of the Ebre region would remain somewhat removed from this process of intensive occupation of the coastal area. It was the period of ‘Spain is different’ and structuralist economics, which would, over many decades, consolidate a tourism model based almost exclusively on sun and sand. This ‘single crop’ tourism remained practically unchanged until the Barcelona Olympic Games (1992), except for the isolated development of snow tourism in the Pyrenees (Vall d’Aran, La Cerdanya, El Pallars) and the continuation of traditional destinations such as Montserrat, Vall de Núria, Castellar de n’Hug and Rupit, which would notably increase their visitor numbers with the generalised car ownership of the sixties and seventies. The current stage, by contrast, is characterised by the diversification of the tourist products Catalonia can offer, which include conventional sun and sand, snow and mountain tourism, active and nature tourism and cultural tourism. Finally, regarding tourism development in Catalonia, both in the past and the present, the principles and values set forth by Antoni Muntanyola in his work, L’organització turística de Catalunya, with a quote from Miquel dels Sants Oliver, are still valid: ‘What is right for a people, just as for individuals, is to be themselves, without ceasing to exist, to grow and to improve’. And this is what I believe should be done in terms of tourism. Jaume Font is a full professor of Geography at the University of Barcelona, specialized in matters involving land use planning, a subject on which he has published various books and articles. In 2006, he was given the post of Deputy Director General for Tourism Programming, where he has promoted the publication of the Tourism Atlas of Catalonia, the setting up of Catalan routes and the publishing of guides, among other tasks related to his position. Photo by Margaret Luppino
  • 11. Tourism, Economy and Identity A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 For some years now economists and scholars of productive processes from various disciplines have been talking about a new concept: the economy of identity. The changes that took place in the last decades of the twentieth century towards a global world, which were increasingly unifying, at first appeared to be a threat to the social and cultural aspects of the planet’s peoples and nations. However, globalisation itself has brought about a revaluation of these aspects. Thus, criteria such as the consumption of local products, goods and services, blessed with a uniqueness characteristic of a given society and region, are gaining ground, as they are perceived by the demand as bearers of a new concept of added value. This change of paradigm in consumption is leading regions and the agents operating therein to promote production with a seal of origin, with its own designation, a clear, differentiated identity that gives them a competitive edge. One should bear in mind, however, that this process is neither direct nor simple. In the first place, there must be a genuine collective identity, and a deep-rooted sense of belonging, an awareness of this identity. An identity as the sum of a series of distinctive elements, highly charged with symbolism, with a traditional yet dynamic and changing base, with tangible elements, such as material cultural heritage or landscape, and also non-material heritage, such as traditions or ways of life. Indeed, it is the people acting in a region should start the process of recovering identity, initially as part of its wealth and heritage, but also as an economic driver. Furthermore, this identity should be perceived by the potential demand; the identity must be able to be defined and differentiated through a series of attributes that will make up what is known as the associated ‘image’. Finally, these attributes, this ‘image’, must be explained and valued by the demand; it must be attractive to draw their attention. It therefore requires strategies from marketing and promotion, and also the creation of labels, such as those for the designation of origin, quality seals, or other types of certification in the most general sense. Cuisine, agriculture, wine production, crafts and cultural production in any of its forms (material and non- material) are some of the sectors directly linked to this growing trend. It is in this respect that we also witness a change of paradigm towards tourism. The differentiation, singularity and identity of destinations are, more than ever today, the keystone to the competitiveness of destinations. Indeed, tourism becomes an opportunity to address socio-cultural standardisation, as an element of visualisation, preservation and even reaffirmation of their identity. Tourism is a privileged tool for projecting (and protecting) the attributes of identity, bringing them closer to the consumer, while generating positive effects on a social and cultural level. However, it also brings economic advantages. Tourism becomes key to the construction of an economy of identity, as it enables the destination to become known internationally and its differentiation is an added value, and also thanks to the direct generation of economic activity, its extension to other branches of the economy through significant multiplying effects, and the vertebration of economic and social activity in regions that are in decline or undergoing transformation. In this way, tourism enables us to draw together endogenous and sustainable development and growth models, and becomes a luxury showcase for promoting the region and its society. If we analyse the relationship between tourism and identity, the first thing we notice is that every sustainable tourism model incorporates three basic pillars: environmental protection; economic profitability; and, the one that concerns us, social and cultural preservation and promotion. It is therefore a close, entirely unavoidable relationship. In this respect, it should also be said that although there are types of tourism in which this relationship is abundantly clear (such as cultural tourism, or what is properly called ‘identity’ tourism), limiting the scope to these specific cases would be reductionist. In the case of regions and societies with defined, singular identities, this identity really does pervade everything from lifestyle and forms of production to the natural landscape and the human landscape. Therefore, any tourism activity on offer and undertaken within this region must naturally and spontaneously include elements of itself, material or non-material, perceptible or not. This dynamic has for years configured highly consolidated destinations with an associated image clearly defined on the tourism map. An undoubtedly paradigmatic case in point is Scotland. However, as previously mentioned, in the last decade many other destinations have realised how strongly identity has become a basic element of differentiation and competitiveness; hence the general change in strategy for attracting visitors. The chance to compete does not just come from offering attractive prices, as it used to, or even from having resources like sun and sand, snow, or in extreme cases, a given monumental or artistic heritage. The reduction of distances in cost and time, and the inclusion of new destinations, amongst other factors, have helped bring about an increase in the range of options, so that the mere presence of the resource is no guarantee of success without differentiation. The level of attractiveness lies increasingly in being able to present oneself as different from the rest, and so offer visitors unique experiences. Moreover, the advantages are not only for tourism per se, and for the competitiveness of the destination. We have already mentioned the multiplying effect on the rest of the economy, or the external effects towards the region. We still need to add other opportunities from tourism widely recognised by the academic literature and Marien André - Catalan International View - Summer 2010 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  • 12. empirical evidence as an element, amongst others, of landscape and environment regeneration; the reassertion of social and cultural pride and self-esteem; or the recovery of the identifying elements of local material and non-material culture, whether in use or having fallen into disuse. As an example it is worth mentioning that the main factor of preservation, recovery and use of cultural heritage in Catalonia in the last fifteen years has been the growing consideration of cultural assets as a tourism resource. In regard to the application of a destination and product differentiation strategy within the economy of identity, it should be said that this is based on three clearly separate pillars: - Identification of those differential features that constitute the image to be presented. - Tangibility and marketing through the creation of goods or services. - Development of a marketing strategy adapted to the product. This all leads to defining a tourism brand as a symbolic element aimed at making a profitable image and a differentiated product that responds to the values and interests of one or several market segments, without sacrificing its own interest. This brand becomes the basis for marketing the destination and its products. In this respect, there are destinations, like Catalonia, that use the region-brand as an umbrella brand to present a tourism offer linked to the identity aspects. If we analyse the evolution of the strategies used by destinations up to now, we must emphasise that although at present agreement on the fundamental role of identity is practically unanimous, experience has shown that incorporation of this approach has not been uniform either in time or space. Therefore, in some destinations, like the aforementioned Scotland, identity has always existed, whether consciously or unconsciously, within the tourism policy followed in the public and private sectors and amongst civil society. However, in other cases, like most Mediterranean destinations (including Catalonia), which have a climate and geography that favour the spontaneous development of products popular with the masses, such as sun and sand tourism, although it put them prominently on the world tourism map, it pushed the question of identity into the background. In fact, as one can read in articles on tourism in Catalonia, it was not until recently that identity became a priority in Catalan tourism policy. Indeed, it was only with the drawing up and approval of the 2005-2010 Strategic Tourism Plan for Catalonia that the promotion of the tourism-identity binomial was specified. The Plan includes specific areas in this regard, but the most important thing is that it states a new focus in which identity pervades the definition of the Catalan tourism model right across the board. In conclusion, here and now in the twenty-first century one can state that tourism has reached a level of maturity in which the consumer’s decision-making process is a far cry from what was heralded by the tourism boom as a large-scale phenomenon. Experience, uniqueness, authenticity are key in the planning and success of destinations. And all of them could be joined under the seal of ‘identity’. Tourism and identity are therefore inevitably twinned by the building of new economic models, in tune with the criteria and principles that inspire the current moment and the near future. * AKERLOF, G. and R. E. KRANTON (2000): ‘Economies and identity’, The Quarterly Journal of Economies, Vol. CXV, No. 3. August 2000 Marien André holds a PhD in Economic Science and Business Studies from the University of Barcelona, where she is Professor of Applied Economics. She is also a researcher at the Institute of Applied Economics Research (IREA) of Barcelona Science Park, and a Former Coordinator of the Catalan Tourism Observatory. Photo by Margaret Luppino
  • 13. Barcelona to host an international United Nations congress on tourism in large cities in 2014 A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 Barcelona (ACN).- In 2014, the Catalan capital will organise the United Nations’ international congress on tourism in large cities, as was announced on Friday by Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig. The announcement coincides with the kick off of Catalonia’s International Tourism Fair (SITC), which takes place in Barcelona from the 19th to the 21st of April. The United Nations tourism congress takes place every two years and it directly organised by the international organisation. Furthermore, Rifai praised the SITC’s international projection, since this year it has replicated the number of participating countries and has the United Nations’ support. Besides, Puig emphasised the continuous growth of the tourism sector over the last few years in Catalonia. “Tourism is the activity that is best resisting the economic crisis”, emphasised the Catalan Minister. In the kick off of the International Tourism Fair of Catalonia (SITC), Felip Puig, reminded the attendees that the number of international tourists visiting Catalonia grew by 10% in 2012 and their spending increased by 14%. Puig also disclosed that the projected figures for 2013 are “positive” and will be larger again than the total figures from last year. In addition, he underlined that the summer season will be “good”, but he did not detail the forecast. However, he lamented the fact that the economic crisis in the European countries may affect the number of their nationals visiting Catalonia, but he was confident that emerging economies will be able to balance the situation, especially tourists coming from Asia. A thousand exhibitors This year’s edition of the SITC gathered together a thousand exhibitors. The fair’s main news is of the tourist experiences offered by Catalan destinations, such as cottage houses and gastronomy on the Costa Brava or in the Pyrenees. Furthermore there is the Innovation Zone, with 5 start-up companies from Barcelona city which are going to present their most innovative projects. The fair is completed by the areas relating to cruise ships – since Barcelona is the fourth main international cruise ship harbour -, camping and travel agency proposals. There is also a zone focusing on tourism in deserts called “Gateway to the Desert”. In addition, there are 50 countries showing some of their top tourist spots, especially from Mediterranean countries, as well as Nordic, Asian and Latin American destinations. In addition, in parallel to the fair there is the 3rd International Congress on Asian Tourism, which takes place in the ‘Palau de Congress’ of Fira de Barcelona, at the Montjuic venue. The congress counts on the participation of large tour operators, some 30 expert speakers and tourist promotion institutions from China, Japan, India and South-East Asian countries. The Catalan Tourism Agency also participates in the congress, with its Director Xavier Espasa as a speaker, as well as the Agency’s Directors in Chinese and South-East Asian offices, Antonio Li and David Miró. Catalonia is the leading destination for international tourism at Spanish level. Furthermore, it concentrates 50% of all the tourists coming to Spain from the Asia-Pacific region. In fact, it is the market which is growing the most in Catalonia. Last year, 161,866 tourists came to Catalonia from Japan; China, 103,694; Australia, 100,000; India, 30,584; Singapore, 29,590; and Indonesia, 27,058. The ACT has detected a growing interest in Catalonia in those countries and its tourist attractions. The ACT already had an office in Beijing but, considering the demand, it added a second one to its network in Singapore in 2011. Photo courtesy of the Agència Catalana de Notícies (ACN) Catalan News Agency - 10-4-2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  • 14. Barcelona is the fourth European city with the most tourists after London, Paris and Rome A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 Barcelona (ACN).- A study by the Barcelona Tourism board presented on Thursday emphasised that the number of tourists in Barcelona hotels grew by 0.7% in 2012 compared to the previous year. In total, Barcelona hosted 7.44 million tourists in the city’s hotels. The study also revealed that the significant increase in foreign tourists compensated for the 6.8% drop in Spanish visitors. The number of tourists from Russia and Eastern Europe increased by 32%, those from the United Kingdom grew by 12% and those from the United States grew by 4.7%. Spanish visitors continue to be the largest group of guests to Barcelona hotels, with 1.62 million people. At the presentation of the study, the President of Barcelona’s Tourism Board, Joan Gaspart, emphasised that Barcelona is the fourth European city with the most tourists after London, Paris and Rome. In total, Barcelona hosted 7.44 million tourists in its hotels during 2012. North-American tourists represented the highest number of foreign hotel visitors, with 635,000 people. They were followed by UK citizens (593,000 individuals), French (572,000), Italians (491,000) and Germans (415,000). The President of the city’s Tourism Board linked the drop in French and Italian visitors (-3.6% and -12.2% respectively) to the economic crisis. However, the number of German tourists grew by 4.3%. The economic crisis has considerably affected the number of tourists coming from Spain, whose number dropped by 6.8%. Spanish visitors are the largest group of guests to Barcelona hotels, with 1.62 million people. They represent 21.8% of the total number of visitors. Therefore, a significant drop in Spanish tourists could be very bad news for the Catalan capital tourist sector and hotels. However, in 2012, the drop in Spanish tourists was compensated for by the increase in foreign visitors. Since the trend is likely to continue in 2013 and 2014, the Board will concentrate its promotion activities outside Spain. “It is useless to invest a single euro looking for tourists in the Spanish market; we prefer to look for them in markets with a higher purchasing power”, stated the General Director of Turisme de Barcelona (Barcelona’s Tourism Board), Pere Duran. During 2013, the Catalan capital’s Tourism Board will carry out 26 promotional activities in the United States and Canada and 12 activities in each of the three main Western European markets: France, Germany and the United Kingdom. In addition, it will develop 10 promotional activities in Russia. With these events, the Board expects to attract visitors with a high purchasing power. Therefore, Gaspart was confident about the 2013 figures and said that they expect to repeat the positive results from 2012. In addition, Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Affairs, Sònia Recasens, explained that the city hotels have collected around €5.5 million with the tourist fee, implemented last year. 50% of the money will be for Barcelona’s Tourism Board, to carry out promotional activities. On this fee, Gaspart added that, despite the controversy it generated a year ago, he “would support again the tourist tax” and now “half of Spain is asking us how it is working”. Besides, Recasens presented a study made by the City Council about the acceptance of tourism among Barcelonans. According to the report, 96.3% of Barcelona residents believe that tourism is “beneficial” for the city. Last year the percentage was 94.8%. Furthermore, 72% of them consider that Barcelona has to continue attracting more visitors and 89% of the city residents think that this economic activity “creates many jobs”. Photo courtesy of the Agència Catalana de Notícies (ACN) Catalan News Agency - 11-4-2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  • 15. El Celler: An Exemplary Story A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 A few months ago a friend asked me to write the prologue to her first book. I wasn’t an expert on the subject and I found writing the text a challenge. Little by little and with difficulty I finally did finish it, and the book went on to be presented successfully. The next day I received a flower, and being quite fond of flowers I thought it was a nice gesture. But I was amazed when I opened the envelope that accompanied the flower: inside was an invitation to lunch at the Celler de Can Roca. I went there a few days before it was named best restaurant in the world. The story is well known: the Roca brothers are the successful result of the mix of two cultural models. On the one hand we have the family model: a humble mother of rural origins who learns the trade and ends up opening a restaurant in Taialà, a working-class suburb of Girona. The other model is that of the Girona School of Hospitality, which is a magnificent demonstration of how a good school can be the key to development. The Roca brothers started out in a small restaurant next door to the family restaurant, and thanks to their success and their hard work they moved to a bourgeois tower in the same neighborhood, which they have turned into a space that is hard to describe. First there’s the kitchen: divided into different areas, each one with just the right temperature and dedicated to a specific task. If, in general, restaurant kitchens at peak hours are noisy, chaotic, steaming places, at two in the afternoon that kitchen was gleaming and orderly: everything in there flowed with precision. Young people from around the world worked with the gestures and delicacy of artists. To comparing that kitchen with an assembly line would not be accurate, even though Can Roca’s lineup of tasks runs like clockwork. To compare it to the workshop of a Renaissance artist would be much more accurate (the master chef, Joan, and the head pastry chef, Jordi, coordinating the tasks, and letting their protégés learn the secrets of their art while they prepare the canvases and the colors). To compare a kitchen with a laboratory would not be an exaggeration: the Roca brothers’ cooking has inspired ongoing technological innovation (I fell in love with a distiller that traps the steam from the pots and pans). The other area is the cold wine cellar. This is the domain of Josep, a sage who likes to be called a wine waiter. The celler contains some 30,000 bottles of 2,500 listings. Five sections, corresponding to five denominations of origin, sum up the history of wine: Champagne, Riesling, Burgundy, Priorat and Sherry. Each one of these wines, closely connected to a particular landscape, is identified by a musical instrument and by a certain texture. Thus, a Priorat expresses the tenacity of small steep terraces, sounds like a cello and has the feel of slate. Back in the dining room, which encircles a small garden, diners discover that a meal here has nothing to do with one you would have at home or at your local neighborhood restaurant. A meal at Can Roca is also very different from what you would find at the Motel Empordà of Figueres, which is the origin of Girona’s quality cuisine and what inspired all subsequent successes. Eating means combining the five senses. But the Roca brothers suggest we go one step further: to combine the senses with reason. To appeal to common sense to completely recreate the everyday experience of eating. Let’s be clear though: the Roca brothers don’t make abstract art; they cook. Not content to simply to satisfy the senses; they also seek to fill them with wonder. The festival of emotions the Roca brothers propose would be impossible to experience every day: we are talking about dozens of appetizers that combine clever, unthinkable and playful creations with sophisticated variations on traditional fish or meat dishes. It all begins when they invite you to guess which part of the planet the little appetizer balls represent (there are some that have flavors that embody Japan or Morocco). The typical anchovy stuffed olives have taken on a caramelized crunch, and a vermouth has now become a sweet liquid that is reminiscent of sesame. And before you know it you discover that asparagus have turned into a Vienetta (or Comtessa) ice cream cake. I won’t recite the entire menu. I will just say that the flavors appealed to and satisfied my appetite but also stimulated my mind. They provoked outbursts of euphoria, astonishment, bliss and exaltation. The tastes, textures, colors, combined in unusual and radically unexpected ways, demanded constant attention. The same deep and joyous attention that listening to J.S. Bach requires, which is so emotional and imaginative yet also so mathematical and rational. I once wrote that all one needs to conjure up paradise is some bread dipped in a good olive oil. I was appealing to sobriety and the essential things in life, but the affirmation can also apply to the experience of having lunch at the Celler de Can Roca, which leads us to paradise by much more sophisticated and complex routes. Bread and olive oil are something we should be able to eat every day. El Celler is a place we should be able to go once in our lives. To celebrate a truly exceptional moment. As exceptional as the story of this family that settled in this suburb of Girona and, without leaving the neighborhood, and with perseverance, rigor, hard work, a lot Antoni Puigverd - La Vanguardia - 06-05-2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  • 16. of faith and a powerful vocation, has created the best restaurant in the world, the spearhead of Girona’s tourist industry. In the midst of this economic crisis, the history of El Celler shows us that there are at least two clear paths to success: artisan values, and the mix of modernity and tradition. They are not easy paths. To become the best in the world it has taken two generations, three extraordinary talents, a constant effort and an iron will. Antoni Puigverd (la Bisbal d’Empordà, 1954) is a professor of literature currently on sabbatical. As a journalist he has worked for many media outlets. He is currently a columnist for the newspaper La Vanguardia and political commentator on Catalan radio and television stations. He has published novels, poetry and essays. Translated by Margaret Luppino Image courtesy of El Celler de Can Roca (Photos by David Ruano / Josep Oliva) www.cellerdecanroca.com
  • 17. Formentera, the exception that proves the rule A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 OverthelastfewmonthsIhavebeentoFormentera twice –one of those visits was to present the book 1.250 grams de Formentera [1,250 grams of Formentera], a volume with an impressive collection of photos of the island which are the work of the photographer Òscar Rodbag, who is a frequent collaborator of the magazine Descobrir. I don’t aim to list the virtues of Formentera in this short piece. Most people have had the opportunity to enjoy the turquoise waters and the harsh beauty of this rural landscape. I merely wish to call attention to the fact that this Pitiusa island is, do forgive the redundancy, a little island, an oasis of good sense amid an all-things-go madness. And I say this because it is something I have spoken about with the president of the Consell Insular of Formentera, Jaume Ferrer, and with the Ministers of Tourism and Culture, Sandra Ferrer and Sònia Cardona, respectively. Formentera has opted for a model of tourism development that is different from the rest, which can be seen, for example, in the fact that it is the only island [of the Balearic Islands] that is not governed by the PP; what’s more, it is governed by a party that is from Formentera and that is closely connected to the local community: Gent x Formentera [People for Formentera]. And it shows. For example, the urbanization on the island is kept in check thanks to new construction requirements –and the necessary pressure to make sure that people comply with these requirements. There has been a big push for increased use of public transportation, which is particularly important on a small island that receives thousands of visitors and that up until today was hardly familiar with any alternative to the private vehicle (either owned or rented). The introduction of selective waste collection has also met with great success. But if we focus on the strictly tourism-related issues, Formentera would like to be known for taking advantage of all of its values; the beaches, of course, and much more: a unique cultural heritage, a peaceful and laid-back approach to life and enjoyment, natural beauty and, above all, a place to have truly unconventional experiences. It helps, to start, that the main part of Formentera’s tourism sector is in the hands of the island’s inhabitants. Therefore, we don’t see any big hotel chains or major tour operators that control the flow of visitors. This is because today Formentera can still only be reached through the port of la Savina, despite the plans –imported from the outside and aborted from within—to construct a new port in the more touristy area of es Pujols. Or because the Council of Formentera has been asking the Government of the Balearic Islands, tourist season after tourist season –for the moment without success—to regulate the anchoring of yachts and other vessels off the coast of Formentera and to ensure that they do not damage the seabed that makes this place unique, especially the posidònia prairie, declared a World Heritage Site. Or for the same Council to establish quotas of vehicle occupation in certain protected nature areas of the island and to create taxes that contribute to their upkeep and protection. A sacrilege... In summary, the main goal for Formentera to be perceived as a quality tourist destination, one that respects the environment and respects the local people who live there. This objective is closely connected to the debate about the maximum number of visitors the island can absorb without damaging it (in other words, without destroying everything that makes it such an attractive destination to begin with). And from this idea, one of a certain concept of an island, derive initiatives such as the Formentera Photography Festival (Formentera Fotogràfica), which is held from May 3rd-5th; the RedBio [Bio Network] of ornithological tourism; or a whole string of sporting and leisure events that run the length of the island by land, sea and air. The future does not just make a different tourism model possible; it demands a different model. And despite all its shortcomings and contradictions, the exception of Formentera shows that if we want it, we can make it happen. Joan Morales i Morera (Barcelona, 1967) has been the director of the magazine Descobrir since mid-2006. A journalist who has always been passionate about the Catalan Countries, he has written extensively about these territories. He is the coauthor and coordinator of the book Terra i llibertat. 100 entitats dels Països Catalans (Edicions 62, 2000) and author of a book that combines popular culture and gourmandism: Caps de setmana gastronòmics (Ara Llibres, 202). Translated from Catalan by Margaret Luppino Photo courtesy of Joan Morales Joan Morales - Descobrir - 02-04-2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  • 18. Making Identity a Tourism Value A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 Tourism is one of the main drivers of the Valencian economy. This is not uncommon in our part of the world, as our geographic location provides us with certain climatic conditions that are attractive to people who live in other regions. The climate is an important part of our identity as a territory, but it is not the only one. Valencia’s tourism policies have renounced – either voluntarily or involuntarily—making identity, in the broadest sense of the word, a core value for attracting quality tourism. We all know that the basic principle of marketing, whether it is for tourism, business or politics, is all about differentiating yourself from the competition. What better way to make yourself stand out than to highlight who you are and what others cannot be— in other words, your identity? Let’s review how Valencia advertises itself today. The city of Valencia has sought to define itself as a tourist destination by focusing on creating an image that revolves primarily around building complexes like the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (The City of Arts and Sciences), big events like Formula 1 races, the Falles festival and the beaches. Only one of these, the Falles, is unique and intrinsic to Valencia and its environment. And the rest? A brand-new and ruinous architectural complex. Sporting events that are hosted by the highest bidder. Or sand and salt water, which can be found along thousands of kilometers of the Mediterranean. If it weren’t for the Falles festival, these kinds of advertising claims could just as well apply to Cartagena, Marseille, Malaga or Tunis. In general, the city of Valencia’s story –as capital of L’Horta and the País Valencià— is absent from its tourism policy. I find it shocking that a thousand year old city overflowing with history, symbols, and a collective story, is using a nouveau riche attitude to attract tourists. Valencia is the Mediterranean, Valencia is the Falles. But it is also Roman, it is also Arab, it is also L’Horta and the Water Tribunal, it is gothic architecture (both civil and religious), it is the Albufera Natural Park and the goles, or canals that are a part of it, it is the Feast of Corpus Christi and its roques and figures. Valencia is also defined by the traces that remain of having once been one of the principal Mediterranean capitals for centuries. Valencia is the small streets of the Carme neighborhood and its convents, the Modernism of the Central Market, Russafa and the Eixample neighborhood, and it is much, much more. In my opinion, this neglect –the decision to not make Valencia’s history and unique story a key element for attracting tourism—can be symbolized by two examples. They are the Llotja and the Feast of Corpus Christi. Valencia’s Llotja de Seda, or Silk Market, is one of the best examples of gothic civil architecture in Europe. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is both a Valencian and a Mediterranean gothic civil architecture, with its specific characteristics. Yet there is more to it than the unique (physical) building: the Llotja symbolizes the period of highest splendor in Valencia’s thousand-year history, a moment when it was the capital of a powerful state and a model for trade in the Mediterranean. And the Llotja is the evidence of this commercial power. The building and the activities that took place therein explain how we Valencians once were and even, if we wish to, tell us something about who we are now and who we would like to become: a hard-working people, with a society based on trade, entrepreneurship, pacts and openness, that knows how to take advantage of what makes it unique. The Llotja is being wasted. Is it in the guidebooks? Yes. Do tourists visit it? Yes. But I don’t think that anyone takes the time to use the Llotja to better explain the city and its unique personality. It shouldn’t be that hard, we already have the architectural gem, we just need to add greater content and meaning to it, beyond simply opening it to the public. Shall we give it a try? And the Feast of Corpus Christi? Do people who live in the city of Valencia today know that it was the most important festival in Valencia before the explosion in popularity of the Falles? If you have never seen the procession of the roques, the figures, the dances or the “mysteries” of the Corpus, I would highly recommend you did. [The Feast was held this past weekend on May 30th, 2013]. The festival can be traced back to the 14th century. The oldest roca –a wooden structure that resembles a ship—is called the Diablera and was built in 1511. The Corpus acts are an ethnographic expression of the first order, but (and forgive me if I use myself as an example here) it took a long time before I—a newcomer to Valencia—grasped the true dimensions of the Feast of Corpus Christi, simply because it is not advertised very much. Vicent Martínez - Diari ARA - 25-5-2012 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  • 19. This neglect can be seen, for example, in how the roques and the figures are displayed to the public. Instead of a proper museum exposition, these figures are piled together in the Casa de les Roques building in a reluctant attempt at offering a museum-like experience. Any other city, conscious of the festival’s importance and its potential as a cultural tourist attraction, would have dedicated a carefully curated space to this Valencian tradition. This space would serve to explain and interpret the Corpus tradition and give it the value it deserves. And any other city, on the weekend of the Feast of Corpus Christi, would offer sufficient information and spread the word to attract people interested in unique cultural expressions. I am not saying that the Llotja and the Feast of Corpus Christi should necessarily have to be the protagonists of Valencia’stouristoffering.Buttheyshouldatleastbekeypointsofreference,togetherwithothercomplementary elements, of a new tourism model. I believe this model is one that should take advantage of the city’s potential, its history, its heritage and its culture. In other words, its identity in the broadest sense of the word. No other city has the Llotja of Valencia or its Feast of Corpus Christi. Nor do other cities have L’Horta, the Albufera, the Carme neighborhood or the Central Market. But countless other cities have beaches, can pay to host car races and can waste hundreds of millions of euros on architecture complexes. I leave my humble proposal on the table, just in case anyone would like to listen. Vicent Martínez i Valls (València, 1981) graduated with a degree in Journalism from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), and also holds a Masters in Political Marketing and Electoral Communication from the Institute of Political and Social Sciences (ICPS-UAB). He has worked as a journalist in various media outlets and press offices, such as that to the Department of the Presidency and the Department of Governance and Public Administration of the Generalitat de Catalunya, as well as the Federació Escola Valenciana. Currently he is the Communications Director of Ser Mediterrània, a tourism company of which he is one of the founding members. He also works as a freelance communications consultant as well as professor of courses and masters at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Pompeu Fabra University and the University of Girona. Since October 2012 he has been a part of the National Executive of the Valencian Nationalist Bloc (Compromís Coalition) Photo of the Llotja de Seda (Wikipedia Commons)
  • 20. Towards a Catalan Fourth Wave A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 In every nation, family relations and inheritance by individuals are subject to regulation by civil law. We can truly speak of a revolution in this area in the last decade. Family structures and interpersonal relations have changed profoundly, and the law has had to examine the answers that it provides. In this respect, Catalan legal system represents a model which is well-worth taking into account due to its ability to adapt to new realities, and its innovative, modern, flexible nature which responds to the needs of a welfare state to which it also contributes. We know that the most frequent mechanism of state creation has primarily been secession, followed by state dissolution, and it has occurred in three chronological waves. Firstly, the application of the Wilsonian principle of self-determination during the First World War period saw the emergence of new national entities out of ancient Empires (the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian). Later, the struggle for decolonisation liberated several peoples from colonial rule imposed by European powers (such as Algeria from France or India from the UK). Finally, the fall of the Berlin Wall presaged the last wave, with several republics becoming emancipated from the former USSR. However, the emergence of new states has not stopped, we constantly see territorial claims across the globe and the list of states has recently been enlarged by Southern Sudan, Kosovo and Montenegro. Will we see a fourth wave of state creation? One can never know. Nonetheless, a cursory glance at the waves described above is enough to tell us that secession and state dissolution often go hand in hand with violent conflict, ghastly war, and harsh territorial disputes as well as ethnic cleansing, persecution and mass destruction. Against such a backdrop, if a fourth wave of state creation is to occur it would be desirable, for it to take place through liberal-democratic means and procedures. I would argue that the Catalan case for self- determination can shed some light on this path. The unofficial Catalan referendum campaign as a democratic movement The unofficial referendums on independence from Spain that were organised at a local level by civil society in Catalonia between September 2009 and April 2011 were a clear democratic mobilisation tactic. They had a powerful effect on mainstreaming the issue of secession and changing the discourse on self-determination. More than 800,000 people took part in these unofficial polls, organising and voting on the question: Should the Catalan nation become an independent, democratic and social state within the European Union? This mobilisation was entirely organised by a voluntary network of civil society activists in each municipality. Unofficial referendums on the same question were held in 552 municipalities of Catalonia (out of a total of 947) representing 77.5% of the total population; the overall turnout was 18.1%, 32.5% counting the mean of municipalities turnout (Guinjoan & Muñoz, 2012). In analysing this phenomenon we have to bear in mind that at present secession is forbidden in Spain and it is not the responsibility of regional Governments to hold a referendum on this issue. According to art.1.2 of the Spanish Constitution, sovereignty belongs to the entire Spanish people; and according to art.2, the Constitution itself is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation which is considered the indivisible homeland of all Spaniards. The mobilisation for organizing unofficial referendums was a clear attempt by civil society to push forward the long-standing claim for an official vote on secession in Catalonia. It took place in a context of nationalist mobilisation and heated political debate following the reform of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy in 2006 and its severe amendments in the Constitutional Court. The restrictive interpretation of the Statute adopted by the Court infuriated Catalan pro-autonomy parties since the Statute had already been passed both by national and regional parliaments and approved by the Catalan population in an official referendum in 2006. Moreover, political unrest increased following the publication of regional fiscal balances by the Spanish government in 2008, which confirmed the idea that Catalonia had a tax deficit of 8% of its GDP due to an unjust redistribution of wealth among its regions. In a context of a severe economic crisis, secessionist political actions succeeded in mobilising civil society and changing its traditional pro-autonomist position. Two important effects can be observed, thanks to the holding of 552 local, unofficial referendums. Although we cannot attribute them entirely to this phenomenon, I would argue that they helped to produce these outcomes. The first impact was a clear transformation of Catalan political demands. Since the recovery of democracy in Spain (1978), following forty years of Franco’s fascist dictatorship, Catalan nationalism was considered a moderate, pro-autonomy movement. Its main political party (CiU) led by President Jordi Pujol never considered the possibility of seceding from Spain and instead played an active role in Spanish politics. However the mobilisation of unofficial referendums produced, among other factors, a deep transformation of Catalan nationalism passing from autonomist claims to a pro-secessionist approach. At present, following the November 25th 2012 elections of the Catalan parliament, there is an absolute majority in the chamber that backs secession with almost two thirds in favour of a referendum on the issue. Marc Sanjaume - Catalan International View - Winter 2012-13 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter IN DEPTH
  • 21. A second important impact has been legitimising the discourse of Catalan secessionism. The mobilisation behind the unofficial referendum was organised as a vote on the ‘right to decide’ rather than as a nationalist exaltation or a direct call for independence. Until this period, the discourse on secession was dominated by a nationalistic approach attached to the principle of self-determination. However, the right to decide approach has meant a ‘democratic turn’ which bases the legitimacy of secession on civil rights and universalistic principles rather than relying on a discourse related to cultural or national survival. A symbolic proof of this democratic turn was the consensus among civil society on extending the ‘right to vote’ in these unofficial referendums to the resident population in each municipality rather than using the official criteria of nationality required in ordinary official elections. A Catalan fourth wave The reluctance of the Spanish government to recognize Catalonia’s national character and its refusal to accept bilateral democratic procedures for settling pro-autonomy demands has led to the current political situation. The recently elected Catalan parliament will probably claim responsibility for organizing a referendum on the constitutional future of the Catalan Autonomous Community. However, the Spanish Government has already pointed out that such a process would be entirely unconstitutional. While we are waiting for the development of the political situation it is possible to identify certain elements raised by the Catalan case which could inform a fourth wave of emergent states in Western European countries. A ‘Catalan fourth wave’ of the creation of states could well be guided by the ‘democratic turn’ shown in the unofficial referendums described above. The growing claim for a democratic resolution of territorial disputes in Europe (Scotland, the Basque Country, Flanders or Wales; the so called NEEWS, New Emerging European Western States) points out that this would not be a chimerical scenario. A fourth wave of state creation processes could take into account the following principles that not only emerge from the Catalan case but also from other experiences across Europe. First, the importance of recognition seems to be crucial when dealing with a secessionist claim. Cases in which the parent state has recognized the existence of a differentiated demos such as in Scotland or Quebec, have developed a democratic procedure for its resolution. Second, a pro-referendum procedural approach seems to be the most appropriate means of resolution, democratic participation accompanied by multilateralism rather than unilateralism would allow democratic deliberation, as the unofficial referendums in Catalonia intended; but this time in an official, institutional sense. Third, remembering the importance of achieving a balance between the principles of unity and liberty, Gagnon (2012) has suggested that relationships between majority and minority nations should be guided by values of dignity and hospitality (to their respective minorities); meaning by dignity an absolute value to self-determination without the possibility of interchanging it; and by hospitality, meaning an ethic requirement for both majority and minority nations of the acceptance of otherness. Finally, given the supranational integration context, secession should not be synonymous with isolation but of integration to supranational structures and of interdependence with neighbouring peoples (as the question in the unofficial referendum suggested concerning integration to the EU). To sum up, mainstream Catalan secessionism characteristics allow us to envisage a fourth wave of the creation of states along liberal-democratic lines by exercising the collective right to decide based on a requirement of the ethics of dignity and hospitality. The Spanish government should also be able to follow these ethical and democratic requirements. Marc Sanjaume is a part-time professor and researcher at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation ‘Moral and political legitimacy in theories of secession. A theoretical and comparative analysis’, supervised by Professor Ferran Requejo. He has been a visiting researcher at Université Laval (Quebec) and the University of Edinburgh (Scotland). Photo by Margaret Luppino References: GAGNON, A. (2012), Temps d’incertituds. Assajos sobre federalisme i diversitat nacional, Editorial Afers. GUINJOAN, M; MUÑOZ, J (2012), ‘Accounting for Internal Variation in Nationalist Mobilization: Unofficial Referendums for Independence in Catalonia (2009-11)’, Nations and Nationalism, (forthcoming). LÓPEZ, J (2011), ‘From the right to self-determination to the right to decide. A possible paradigm shift in the struggle for the rights of stateless nations’, Quaderns de recerca, n.4, UNESCOCAT.
  • 22. The traditional house. The ‘masia’ A Different Kind of Tourism issue #16 - may 2013 The ‘mas’ [country house] was born between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This agricultural use, which varies in extension depending on the region, has become transformed over time. With the plague of 1348, country houses increased their lands. This typically Catalan building, which is erected in the middle of the cultivation or pasture land, has not been immune to fashions. There are those that are fortified, which have ‘sgraffiti’ and galleries or modernist characteristics. Thecountryhousewasanagriculturaldevelopment, built up of land and the house where the family who cultivated it lived, which was born between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In 1348, the Black Plague and the wars of John II left Catalonia practically without inhabitants. Many country houses were abandoned and became ruins. The farmers who survived hardly managed to pay their masters anything and were able to incorporate into their property the country houses which had remained empty, in this way increasing their possessions. This is the country house which has endured to the present day, with more land than the medieval ones and, therefore, with more economic potential. We must point out that country houses are characteristic of the Old Catalonia and we find them in the Solsonès and Penedès regions. In the Pyrenees and Northern Catalonia they are not very common, although in some places there are descriptions which allude to country houses, like Mas de Barberans or Masó. The land attached to a country house varies from one place to another. In the Geronan counties it could be some 20 hectares, while in the Solsonès they were much larger and could be between 200 and 300 hectares. In most cases, the country house had its land conglomerated around it and the country house was erected right in the middle. In the house where the farmer lived there were rooms in which the previously gathered agricultural products were stored and transformed. Many country houses had ‘quintanes’ [herbs that grow close to country houses] dedicated to the cultivation of cereals, the odd vine, olive trees, an area of garden, irrigated by water from a fountain, well or spring, deserts and forests. The forests produced many complementary and necessary products for the country house: from the wood to keep it warm, to the wood, clay and stones for building, as well as the wood for charcoal or glue, and mushrooms. In the mountainous areas, the country house had more areas dedicated to pastures to be able to feed the livestock. The country house usually had a lower floor, which was where the tools were kept, a space for mules and bulls, chicken pens, rabbit pens and pig sties. Sometimes they also had sinks for olive oil and a cellar with different sized tubs. The first floor was structured around a living-room, a space which served for the big family gatherings; other than the kitchen and the hearth, the warmest corner in the house, and the place where the family met, while on the other side, there were the bedrooms. Under the roof, there were lofts with tools, and corners in which to keep the grain and some rooms where the servants lived. If the country house was orientated towards the production of wine, it had bathtubs and cellars; if it was livestock orientated, it had barns and farmyards and lofts to keep the straw in; if it was cereal orientated, it had ‘eres’ [building to put the grass in] and ‘pallisses’ [building to put the straw in]. The architecture of the country house is extraordinarily varied and was subject to fashion and the economic means of the family who lived in it. Some had towers, which were built during periods of war or pirate invasions, and others grew when the economic times were good, by adding extensions onto the original house. However, the truth is that some families made more coherent renovation. In the seventeenth century the fortified country house came into fashion; in the eighteenth the ‘sgraffiti’ especially in the Maresme area; in the nineteenth century, central galleries and ‘lluernons’ and, last but not least, in the twentieth century some incorporated modernist touches. The countryside of Catalonia may seem as though it has not been altered since the sixteenth century, but the truth is that the dynamics of the country houses was quite damaged. Some country house farmers became ruined and had to sell their residence to city bourgeoisie, the church, or other farmers who had better luck. The marriage between the heir and the heiress also enabled them to unite country houses, some of which remained empty for ever more. Apparently, the country houses continued to be unchangeable in the country side, although they were no longer the property of their original owners, but controlled by a few owners. ISSN: 2014-9093 | Legal deposit: B. 2198-2013 Culturcat - Generalitat de Catalunya seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OUR CULTURE OUR HISTORY