On April 11, the Círculo Ecuestre held a colloquium with Jordi Clos, president of the Barcelona Tourism Executive Committee and president of the Barcelona Hotels Guild.

After the presentation by the president of the Círculo Ecuestre, Enrique Lacalle, the president of Turisme de Barcelona held a dialogue with the delegate of El Mundo in Catalonia Iñaki Ellakuria.

The hotel businessman began the conversation by praising the “brutal, scientific, cultural, congressional, architectural and gastronomic appeal that Barcelona has”. He highlighted the evolution of the Catalan capital, which has gone from “being the great unknown to being in the top ten in Europe thanks to tourism”, “which represents 14% of the city's GDP”.

Recalling the harsh period that the sector had to face after the pandemic, Clos pointed out that “during that time the administration tried to have tourism be identified as one of the main problems of the city”. According to the speaker, “this reflection, collected in a municipal survey carried out by Barcelona City Council, was reversed after the pandemic, making it known that tourism is the most important economy in our city”.

Jordi Clos presented to the attendees the roadmap that Turisme de Barcelona wants to carry out: “We want to increase the quality and not the quantity of the tourism we already have. We are going to position and reinforce the Barcelona brand to obtain a tourism segment that is not in our city." After alluding to the congress that McDonald's is holding in the Catalan capital or the Mobile World Congress (MWC), among other reference events, Clos defined that “the high-level tourism market segment is replacing the one that predominated before, of bachelor parties and playful.”

To maintain this situation, the president of Turisme de Barcelona called to “continue promoting public-private collaboration” with the purpose of improving the tourism sector in the city. “We are in one of the best moments after the time of Maragall and Clos”, he said and then thanked that “Jaume Collboni is totally aligned” with the entity he presides over.

According to Clos, “Turisme de Barcelona has initiated a brutal power through artificial intelligence by investing in a great project: a comprehensive platform that brings together all the essential elements and that brings together all the necessary information for those arriving in Barcelona”. As an aspect of improvement, he also advocated for “the diversification of the Barcelona area” with “scheduling visits and entrances to tourist places” in order to “avoid tourist overcrowding.” “We must avoid the masses who do not bring any benefit to the city, who saturate Las Ramblas and who at most eat a pre-cooked paella”, he stated.

Regarding cruise tourism, the hotelier stressed the importance of “differentiating the two types of cruises that exist” and “supporting high-level cruises that operate intercontinental lines”. In line with the last statement, Clos gave his opinion on the reinforcement of the interport infrastructure of Barcelona Airport: “It is very clear that the expansion is essential for an economy of scale for Barcelona and Catalonia. It will position and situate the city in the world. It is a mistake to think that tourism will skyrocket”, he noted.

Asked about the comparison between Barcelona and Madrid, the president of Turisme de Barcelona said that "both cities add much more than separately", although "when we have to fight for a fair, we will fight to keep it". He also highlighted the “very strong growth and momentum that cities like Malaga, Seville and Valencia have experienced”.

Returning to tourism in the city, Ellakuria asked the speaker about the controversy over tourist apartments. Clos explained that “the tourist apartment works for people who come for a certain period of time or for families” but that “at the time the necessary force was not put in place to prevent the creation of the tourist apartment in a neighboring building, which always generates problems of coexistence". Along these lines, he emphasized the “laudable work of Collboni in trying to close all the spaces that are not legal” and the “predisposition of the Department of Territory to regularize this situation and have entire buildings of tourist apartments”.

Asked about the Special Urban Planning Plan for Tourist Accommodations (PEUAT), Jordi Clos said that “it has created a limitation on the creation of clients in the central area of Barcelona”, adding that “the refusal of the Four Seasons has been the most serious mistake of the last 20 years in the city of Barcelona”. “In Madrid, the average price level of the area, of the client, etc. has changed. And that’s what we’ve been missing”, he said. Faced with this situation, Clos demanded that the administrations “allow the construction of unique buildings and hotels, such as chateau relais”. Or, “repairing old buildings to become unique hotels that enrich the central areas in which they are located”, something that, from his point of view, “would give brutal prestige to the city and create a demand for a very type of sophisticated client".

The president of Turisme de Barcelona concluded the presentation at the Círculo Ecuestre by declaring that “the tourist tax collects 130 million euros per year” of which, “30 go to the Generalitat of Catalonia and 100 a year to the City Council”. “We have achieved something important: transparency. Until now we did not know where the money that the tourism sector contributed to Barcelona City Council went", he said, later adding that, "at this moment, Turisme de Barcelona has a very direct connection with Barcelona City Council", which "allocates the proceeds tourism to social causes such as the air conditioning of children's equipment, the adaptation of buildings for disabilities or the restoration of buildings or monuments".

Looking at the future of tourism in the city of Barcelona, the hotel businessman asked to “improve the city's insecurity through a reformulation of the recidivism laws”, despite the fact that he understands that “it is a tourist city and, therefore, a easy market and prone to theft”.

Regarding the Copa América, one of the most important events that will take place in the Catalan capital, Clos said that, although he does not quite believe the optimistic forecast for overnight stays, “it is an extraordinary event that is going to have an extraordinary media impact thanks in part to the unbeatable management that is being done by the public-private sector”. “The Copa América is opening doors in the maritime vision of Barcelona, since requests for similar events are being received”, he concluded.