Tourism, yes, always, as an economic engine for the cities of Spain and Portugal, but the effort must also be made to reconcile the needs of visitors with the improvement of the quality of life of the citizens, in order to reduce social rejection that mass tourism has in many capitals, even in those such as the Canary Islands, where it accounts for an important part of the community’s GDP.

It was one of the main conclusions of the dialogue table that took place yesterday in Madrid by the Barcelona Society of Social and Economic Studies for the Promotion of Work (SBEES) entitled “The future of tourism in Portuguese and Spanish cities”.

The day was inaugurated by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Jordi Hereu, who has put cities at the center of tourism strategies for the future. “Deconcentrating and deseasonalizing the arrival of visitors means having a network of cities that are magnificent destinations”, he said. The number of tourists arriving in Spain “is what worries me the least”, said Hereu, who believes that we must stand up for quality and for more added value per visitor per day. The president of Foment del Treball, Josep Sánchez Llibre, referred to the Catalan elections in the opening speech of the day advocating for a strong government “with a clear project, capable of leading economic policy in Spain”, which how not to facilitate the life of companies and at the same time project a Catalonia on a global scale.

In a colloquium, the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, precisely defended the need to reconcile the two issues: on the one hand, highlighting tourism as a driver of growth and prosperity and, on the other on the other hand, the maintenance of the way of life in the city, where the quality of life must be prioritized. The mayor considered that both are compatible: “Madrid must be the best city to live in, because then it will be the best city to come to”. Martínez-Almeida remarked that, from here, “we have different challenges and concerns” such as unregulated tourist housing that “not only affects tourism, but the price of housing and coexistence”.

Regarding the infrastructures needed to consolidate tourism in the Iberian Peninsula and, specifically, on the high-speed lines, the mayor of Porto, Rui de Carvalho de Araújo, claimed the need for cross-border cooperation Spain – Portugal, a debate that has been going on for many years: “we must look at the Peninsula as a single city”.

Jordi Clos, from Turisme de Barcelona and the Barcelona Hotels Guild, has insisted on the need for cities “as spectacular and complementary” as Madrid and Barcelona “to go together and not compete with distant destinations, such as Asia or the USA” . The hotelier defended that “all cities compete for the celebration of an event or a convention, but for tourists who come from so far away, the distance between Madrid and Barcelona is ridiculous, and the joint offer, unbeatable” .

At the debate table, apart from Martínez-Almeida, Carvalho de Araújo and Clos, the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, took part; the president of the Câmara Municipal de Cascais, Carlos Carreiras, and the president of the Confederation of Business Associations of the Balearic Islands (CAEB), Carmen Planas.