The Commonwealth Lecture Series – How Barcelona Became a Tourist Destination

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In the third talk in the series Lluis Bosch spoke about “How Barcelona Became a Tourist Destination”. Lluis Bosch is the Head of the Routes and Publications department of the Urban Landscape Institute of the
Barcelona City Council.

It may be hard to imagine now, but only 25 years ago, Barcelona was not at all a touristic city. Most tourists arriving at Barcelona airport would hurry off to their seaside resorts and avoid the metropolitan area. Gaudí’s works and those of the rest of the masters of the Modernisme movement (the particular Catalan Art Nouveau) were all but unknown to the general public –and in many ways disregarded by art lovers and specialists.

Today, however, with more than 8 million tourists every year –and with over 85% of them stating that they come attracted, above all, by its Art Nouveau architecture-­‐ Barcelona has become the 3rd touristic magnet in Europe and the most popular Art Nouveau heritage capital worldwide.

The talk explains how this evolution has happened: what part of this success is owed to conscious, deliberate policies of the authorities and what part can be traced to other, more coincidental or external causes? It will also delve into the debate –now very alive in the local media-­‐ of whether such impressive touristic success of Barcelona will in the long run be beneficial or harmful for the city’s image, the preservation of its heritage and the quality of life of its citizens.

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