Sun and beach destinations claim from Salou their innovative role and ask for better financing

The Teatre Auditori de Salou (TAS) was the setting yesterday for the first edition of the Salou Congress, a new convention for the tourism sector to address, from different points of view, the transformation of coastal municipalities. European funds, energy sustainability and mobility were the focus of a first day in which the main sun and beach tourist municipalities in the country, included in the Alliance of Tourist Municipalities (AMT), claimed the commitment to innovation that they carry out to transform their destinations and demanded the need to improve their financing to guarantee the quality of the services offered to both tourists and residents.

The mayor of Salou, Pere Granados, highlighted the weight that coastal tourist municipalities have for the Spanish economy and stressed the importance of a congress like this one for its evolution. «This type of debate is necessary in Catalonia and throughout the Spanish State. It is very important that there are exchanges of ideas between the different agents within the tourism industry to improve our destinations much more », he expressed.

In his inaugural speech, Granados spoke of the future challenges facing these destinations and assured that "without the necessary and essential transformation of their spaces and an innovative management of their products, with criteria of environmental, social and economic sustainability, it will not be possible to move towards achieving a new framework capable of reactivating and sustaining an economy that has been and is successful”. In relation to financing, the mayor was blunt and claimed that "the higher competent administrations must make a greater effort to provide sufficient financing to these destinations that are bound to oversize the provision of services."

Fernando Valdés, Secretary of State for Tourism, highlighted in his speech the role of Salou as a leading tourist destination in Spain. «One of our greatest exponents. A successful model that contributed, already with the boom tourism of the last century, for Spain to open up to the world," he said. The Secretary of State valued the role of sun and beach destinations and admitted the special needs that municipalities such as Salou, whose floating population triples the registered population, have in terms of financing to deal with public services such as security, cleaning or maintenance. Services, he acknowledged, "that require fair financing and adjusted to their realities."

Likewise, Valdés explained that "we have spent decades with the need to maintain quality, while at the same time diversifying and seasonally adjusting our tourism model" and defended that "for the first time in a long time, we are responding to these challenges with innovative solutions and a volume unprecedented resources”, highlighting the opportunity that the European Next Generation funds represent, he said.

“We have spent decades with the need to maintain quality and diversify our tourism model”, Fernando Valdés (Secretary of State for Tourism)

For her part, the Government delegate in Catalonia, M. Eugènia Gay, spoke of "the need for co-governance between administrations to jointly address the economic recovery of tourist destinations." In addition, she expressed the importance of finding a balance between citizenship and tourist activity "in such a way that being a tourist destination translates into well-being for its neighbors, with quality jobs and care for the environment and the urban environment."

towards diversification

The central round table of the day included the participation of the mayors of Salou, Adeje, Lloret de Mar and Calvià, as well as the top tourism officials from San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Torremolinos. All of them highlighted the work they have been carrying out for years to create new products and diversify their destinations beyond sun and sand, as well as the need they have to rebalance income to address the transformation of their cities.

The session, moderated by ESADE Professor Josep Francesc Valls, served to shed different examples of the constant innovation that the different tourist boards are working on and also to illustrate the challenges that these town councils face in day-to-day management. In this sense, they underlined the need to seek social cohesion as one of the greatest challenges for the future. A cohesion that will be achieved, they pointed out, through quality jobs in the sector, availability of housing for residents or quality public services. "Without that we will not be able to reach 2030 with the tourist quality that we are looking for," they warned.

The Salou Congress will continue today, starting at 9:30 in the morning, with a second day that will feature a presentation and two round tables that will focus on the digital transformation of tourist destinations.

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