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Looking for a Catalan touristic identity

The construction of a Catalan tourism industry and the search for an individual touristic image go back a long time. The publication of “100 years of tourism congresses in Catalonia” supports this idea. This volume records the evolution experienced by the sector during a whole century and points at the idea that Catalonia has been fully aware of the economic, social and cultural potential represented by the tourism industry.

Thanks to the arrival of democracy in Spain and the constitution of a Catalan Magna Carta, Catalonia was able to understand that both government organizations and businesses had to join forces to face the challenges posed by an industry with huge potential which, however, back in those days, was facing image issues as a direct consequence of the endorsement by Franco regime, of mass tourism. 

In 1979, the 3rd Congress of Tourism in Catalonia represented the consolidation of the willingness to achieve self-government for the region, and an autonomous tourism industry; in the words of Gaspar Espuña, founder of CETT and one of the promoters of the congress, both these goals required solid foundations. 
These are the foundations that allowed for the creation of specific tourism policies and a legal framework which favored an orderly development of the sector. 

The 3rd Congress raised issues we are familiar with nowadays, such as the conservation of the natural heritage, the long-term use of resources or quality of service. That Congress was also a place where experts made certain proposals that have, since, evolved, for instance how to deal with seasonality, the need for both specific studies and for statistical analysis of the tourism activity which can help make informed planning and decisions. 

One key issue raised during the 1979 Congress was a need for training and professionalization of tourism as well as its desired presence in Catalan Higher Education curricula. CETT has been key in this area thanks to its active role as a link between academia, government organizations and businesses. 

The evolution and transformation of tourism, as well as the presence of tourism studies in higher education, which are key players in the success of industry, are undeniable proof of the legacy of that 3rd Congress. 

However, it is clear that our sector, which is always changing, requires the constant creation of knowledge, of training professionals who can both adapt to changing times and bring about change, and, at the same time can give answers to new challenges and rising demands such as digitalization and sustainability. We must, therefore, continue to build a tourism industry that adds value to Catalonia, its territory and its citizens. As it was said back 1979, if it is good for the territory is good for tourism. 

Dra. Maria Abellanet i Meya
CEO del CETT  
The article by Dr. Maria Abellanet “Tourism during the Spanish “Transition”, the search for a Catalan touristic identity” can be read in full in 100 anys de congressos de turisme de Catalunya.

Image: 3rd Congress of Tourism in Catalonia, 1979
CETT 3rd Congress of Tourism in Catalonia Turism Gaspar Espuña Generalitat Maria Abellanet Meya