The tourism industry has flourished worldwide due to increase in tourist attraction centres. Among the top tourist destinations are cities like Las Vegas, London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona.
In 2010 Barcelona managed to become one of Europe’s most important tourist destinations with millions of overnight stays and accommodations in hotels. Among other Spain cities tourism destinations, Barcelona, being the capital city of the Catalan region is ranked in the second position.
This report focuses on Barcelona as a tourist destination and evaluates tourism development in the country, as well as present scenario in Barcelona, tourism products, visitor demand and behaviour and stakeholder relationships.
The purpose of this report is to highlight how prominent cities such as Barcelona came into existence as the leading tourist destinations and the concepts that enabled them to achieve success.
Stakeholders in the local tourism system
Turisme de Barcelona
The ‘Turisme de Barcelona’ is a Consortium which has the responsability to promote Barcelona as a tourist destination.
It was founded in 1993 between the private sector represented by an amalgamation of the Official Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping and the Barcelona Promotion Foundation, and local government represented by the Barcelona Municipal Council.
The Consortium is described as a public private union since it involves the partnership between two parties from the two different sectors. The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, on the other hand, represents the prvate sector as it is not run by the government or public officials.
According to Jackson and Morpeth (1999), ‘Turism de Barcelona’ was developed so as to add input to the city’s potential to generate revenue. It was intended to enhance the budget of Barcelona.
This was one of the stated objectives for the Consortium and the mission statement was also directed towards making this goal achievable. It states that the Consortium is aimed at boosting tourism attraction in Barcelona as well as strengthening the city’s position globally.
Tourism is not an industry that can be built through the efforts of a sole entity (Butler, 2006). That is why the officials of Barcelona had to form a collaboration with other interested parties so as to work together towards the improvement of the toourism sector.
The collaboration also makes the decision making process a consultative activity. When decisions are made through a consultitative process such as what is carried out in the Consortium, then conflicts are easily avoided (Aas et al., 2005).
Since tourism involves services such as transport and accommodation which enable tourists to have a good time, the city of Barcelona required to link stakeholders involved in these activities.
Travel (2011) therefore pointed out that ‘Turisme de Barcelona’ links stakeholders who operate hotels, restaurants and public transport’.
Strategy formulation and communications are also handled by specialized units of the consortium. These staff units are composed of experienced teams from the tourism industry and this diversity gives ‘Turisme de Barcelona’ competence in operational matters.
Furthermore, the president of the general council is Barcelona’s mayor and this highlights the influential nature of the consortium. In total, the divisions that constitute the consortium are eight.
‘Turisme de barcelona’ is not an all inclusive association since not every kind of stakeholder is part of it. Only those entities that possess critical importance or those considered as primary stakeholders become part of the consortium.
Some of the characteristics that qualify parties to be considered as primary stakeholders include the nature of the existing relationships. Primary stakeholders are only those who have official relationships that are bound by contractual agreements.
The formal relationships of the primary stakeholders are between them and either the community, government or directly with the tourism industry. These parties are considered as crucial players since their contractual relationships make their involvement in tourism economically constrained.
There are many secondary stakeholders involved in the tourism sector. In Barcelona, this sector cannot do without the participation of experts and pressure groups (Horner and Swarbrooke, 2004).
These groups influence policy formulation as they maintain a position of logic and reasoning in every argument. The media also create the much needed awareness and exposure of tourism operations in Barcelona (Cooper et al., 2008).
Secondary stakeholders such as the media, volunteers and experts are however not consulted during decision making in the consortium even though their interests in tourism activities are very high.
Their exclusion from decision making in the city’s tourism decisions is because their relationships with the city officials are not formal.
The exclusion of secondary stakeholders from decision making appears to be a recipe for disaster as far as conflict management is concerned (Laws, 1995; Pender and Sharpley, 2005).
The interesting thing in Barcelona is that even amidst the exclusion of secondary stakeholders in decision making, there have never been major conflicts.
This is unusual in places where interest groups are not involved in the decision making process. The system works in Barcelona because the consortium puts into consideration the interests of all stakeholders during decision making.
‘Turisme de Barcelona’ has over the years overcome the potential threat of conflicts by making clear its objectives and mission. Through the media, the consortium creates awareness about their activities and strategies.
This makes the public and stakeholders aware of the direction which the consortium is taking, which reduces conflicts. The consortium effectively communicates with its public through its website which is informative and easy to use.
The website is available for all stakeholders to access and its simplistic approach allows for a two way communication process thereby allowing feedback to be received.
The large numbers expected and received in Barcelona cannot come without some level of environmental degradation (Douglas, Douglas and Derret, 2001; Shaw and Williams, 2004). Large crowds of revellers always bring about a negative environmental impact.
This is because people who assemble within the small radius are posed as guests who use products and facilities to their satisfaction. A smaller number of individuals are left to clean up the mess caused by the tourists.
Resources such as land and vegetation are also affected as people trounce on them. (Butcher, 2007). These issues necessitated ‘Turisme de Barcelona’ to develop a corporate social responsibility system which includes activities which conserve the environment (Valls and Sarda, 2009).
The most evident of these activities include the promotion of recycling initiatives and saving energy especially in public transportation.
The success of the CSR framework is evident from the 2011 achievement where Barcelona was the first city to be awarded the Biosphere certification because of its responsible and sustainable tourism management structure.
In summary, the tourism industry worldwide has flourished due to the increase of tourist attraction centres. Barcelona has great potential for attracting tourists as it offers a wide array of destinations that are appreciated and visited by many tourists.
The tourist numbers in Barcelona are however not expected to continue increasing in subsequent years because of limitations such as space constraints and the stagnation phase which the city is already experiencing.
Cruise tourism as well as business and cultural attractions are identified as the major sources of success for the city. Barcelona also flourishes because of the commitment of ‘Turisme de Barcelona’ in avoiding conflicts and managing stakeholder relationships amicably.
The approach towards environmental conservancy is also a major boost to Barcelona’s image in the global tourism sector.
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