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Tourism: Barcelona's Cautionary Tale

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Toby
Toby  
7/14/2014 8:11:53 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Old style cities
Interesting. Perhaps the net result is no one will go. It sounds like a bit of a chore, or something only the far thinking tourist would plan to do. ie stop at Barcelona and apply, then go travel around Spain and then come back and get the pass. Constructive obstructionism.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
7/14/2014 7:40:43 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Old style cities
That's the clever part of the Park Guell strategy, Toby, you have to go in person to city hall. No one else can register your name for you. So the tour groups don't get a free pass. They have to pay and are severely restricted in number -- I think it's 400 per hour whereas it was thousands before. 

My guess is only the people who live here will bother to do it. Or someone who visits Barcelona regularly.

Toby
Toby  
7/14/2014 4:53:00 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Old style cities
@Susan: That sounds like it may deter incidental tourists but it will not deter tour groups. They will have operators on the ground who can handle the admin. I think I have a bigger issues with these huge groups of souvenier hunting package visitors than those seeking out culture on their own.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
7/9/2014 5:47:06 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Old style cities
There are two sort of catches here, Toby. The city doesn't own a lot of the high traffic sites like Sagrada Familia and Casa Battlo, which are both run by private foundations which charge steep entrance fees. Sagrada Familia tickets go from 15 euros up to 24 euros. 

But the place where I think your idea is being put into practice fairly successfully is Park Guell, where the city slapped on an 8 euro entrance fee last September against the protests of local residents. It used to be free of charge.

Before the entrance fee and restricted access, the park would be completely swamped with tourists and the city struggled to keep up with maintainance because of sheer wear and tear. 

The residents protested that Guell had gifted the park to the city so there should be no charge, and in theory it *is* still free. But you have to register in person with the city and wait a week to get your ID so you can reserve tickets. It's open to anyone, but of course, no tourist has the time to do that. It's a clever strategy.

Toby
Toby  
7/9/2014 5:15:29 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Old style cities
@Susan: Perhaps the city needs to apply some sort of economic modelling to this one and raise the price of certain high impact locations so that the overall load is spread out and the city gets the additional revenues.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
7/8/2014 9:15:29 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Old style cities
Yes, Disneyland would be the perfect people to consult.

The logistical challenge was highlighted in the documentary by Sagrada Familia, which gets 3.2 million visitors a year -- those are just the people who buy tickets and doesn't count possibly double that number who come to see only the outside of the building.

Tourist buses used to stop right in front of the basilica creating huge traffic jams. Then a couple of years ago, the city moved them to a parking area several blocks away with the result that the streets are now flooded with tourists walking to and from that parking lot accompanied by guides talking through megaphones.

Which is worse? Traffic jams or packed sidewalks and shouting guides?

Toby
Toby  
7/8/2014 8:56:46 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Impact of Tourism Industry
Yeah, I seem to recall someone was doing it, paying for it even. Imagine a public toilet that gave you ten pence when you spent a penny...sorry am I using alien linguistic idioms here?

Toby
Toby  
7/8/2014 8:54:39 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Old style cities
@Susan: I did not realize it was that size of a problem. It sounds more like Disneyworld than a city. Perhaps the city fathers should turn to the Mouse for ideas on how to handle the crowds and perhaps return some of the city back to it's residents.

NewDream
NewDream  
7/7/2014 8:48:55 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Impact of Tourism Industry
Toby, I think that is a great idea. The waste can actually help pay for its own elimination. Er. I main its elimination from the public view...

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
7/7/2014 7:13:22 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Old style cities
I agree, Toby, tourism can be corrosive, particularly if the visitors outnumber the locals by a significant proportion. In Barcelona it's a 5:1 ratio, 10 million visitors more or less (probably more) and 1.7 million residents.

Cairo probably survives better because it's a city of 10 million itself. 

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