Sant Jordi's Day Special: Literary tourism, an opportunity for destinations
Traveling, sightseeing, and getting to know new places is, undoubtedly, what we most look forward to after a year of living with COVID-19. The reasons that make us travel are very diverse. When choosing a destination, our interests have great weight: gastronomy, heritage, natural environment, or literature.
"Understanding, interpreting and anticipating the opportunities offered by literature or cinema is essential for destination management."
Eugeni Osácar Marzal
Literary tourism is a great attraction and can redefine and generate new opportunities for the destinations. It allows them to go beyond the most common symbols and stands as an open window to redistribute and promote tourism from an entirely different perspective. In the current tourism context, "understanding, interpreting and anticipating the opportunities offered by literature or cinema is essential for the management of destinations," in the words of Dr. Eugeni Osácar Marzal, director of research CETT-UB.
Lately, culture and creativity understood as urban factors, have become key to the economic diversification of cities and the attraction of talent to make cities a more humane, inclusive, and sustainable space. In fact, says Dr. Jordi Arcos Pumarola, professor and researcher of TURCiT at CETT-UB, "the presence of a powerful creative industry in an urban environment allows residents to have the opportunity to participate in the cultural life of the city and thus enjoy a better quality of life."
"The presence of a powerful creative industry in an urban environment allows residents to have the opportunity to participate in the cultural life of the city".
Jordi Arcos Pumarola
Literary tourism stems from an intangible element, literature, and to develop, as Arcos points out, "we must adopt a perspective that can generate an exciting offer of tourist-cultural products for both visitors and residents." This type of tourism goes beyond finding a link with fiction. Literary tourism comprises the spaces related to an author, for example, the place where they were born, lived, or developed their work; it may include areas of memory, that is, those that commemorate specific literary events or characters, and last but not least, events created around literature and other elements such as unique bookshops or libraries, which are part of a destination and are attractive to keen visitors.
Barcelona, city of literature
In recent years, Barcelona has boosted its links with the literary world. In 2015, UNESCO awarded Barcelona the seal of City of Literature. It joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, recognizing Barcelona's literary sector as a creative stimulus.
In this sense, projects such as the Literary Map have been carried out; this map allows locating places in the city inhabited, frequented, or immortalized by writers of all ages and origins. Literapolisbcn: a literary gymkhana designed for young people consisting of locating different fundamental geographical points of the city where the action of a novel takes place and solving tests or puzzles that demonstrate their knowledge of the book the city.
Barcelona also has a wide range of events, such as the literary festival BCNegra and several literary routes. For example, some that stand out are those dedicated to the author Carlos Ruíz Zafón and the Cementiri dels' saga Llibres Oblidats (Cemetery of the Forgotten Books).
These examples show the possibilities of literary tourism and the opportunity cities have to use it to diversify the tourist offer and attract new visitors with a proactive interest in discovering new stories and views of the destination. An option to be explored and for which it is worthwhile committing.