Barcelona has become a tourist attraction in record time: If we take the number of tourists staying at hotels as a reference, in 2016, there were more than 9 million compared to 1.7 million in 1990 (Tourism Statistics, 2016. Barcelona and metropolitan area.). International trends indicate that tourism will continue to grow, especially urban tourism. Given this context and considering that tourism cannot be regarded as an economic activity divorced from its location and that Barcelona has unique characteristics in terms of its compactness and diversity of uses, it is essential to create tools for developing high-quality tourist activities while ensuring the correct balance in how the city is used.
In this respect, this document seeks to announce, publicize, and highlight good practices for guiding tour groups on the streets of Barcelona, according to the following objectives:
– Improve the quality of the visitor experience and internal/external image of the city;
– Highlight and publicize the work of tour guides and advocates for Barcelona’s image, culture, and territory;
– Encourage the harmonious co-existence of tourism with residents and businesses, minimizing negative impacts that may be derived from the presence of large groups on the streets;
– Conserve tourism resources and the city’s public space.
THE BALANCE BETWEEN DAY-TO-DAY AND LONG-TERM LIFE IN THE CITY.
Encourage a balance in how the city is used, minimizing annoyances and disruptions in the day-to-day and long-term life of local residents and businesses by:
1. Keeping tourist groups small and adjusting their size to the spaces visited. Avoiding a build-up of people in busy areas or zones with a lot of economic activity. To do so, groups should be divided by suggesting unaccompanied visits or reducing the length of explanations.
2. The use of audio guides and/or whispers to reduce noise pollution on the streets.
3. Respecting children’s privacy and safety. This implies not establishing contact between groups and children (e.g. interfering with games or taking photos) and avoiding stops at locations where there is a large number of children at certain times (e.g. breaks at school during which children play on the street).
THE LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY OF TOURISM RESOURCES AND PUBLIC SPACES
Protect public space and tourism resources by making an effort to treat the city and its heritage respectfully through the following practices:
4. Giving tourist groups free time in spaces where annoyances and disruptions to the city’s day-to-day life are minimized, using areas (when possible) designed for this purpose and encouraging correct treatment of them.
5. Conserving the architectural heritage and public space by discouraging behavior such as drawing or climbing on sculptures or monuments, etc.
6. The correct disposal of waste, encouraging their separation into types, and under no circumstances littering in public spaces.
THE EFFICIENCY, SAFETY, AND ACCESSIBILITY OF MOBILITY
Ensure that the movement of groups around Barcelona occurs in accordance with the safety and accessibility criteria. Collaborate to maintain smooth circulation and correct and efficient mobility for all residents by:
7. Selecting appropriate starting, break, and ending points for the tour, avoiding the creation of obstacles to building entrances and blocking the way of local residents and groups. This includes paying special attention to people with reduced mobility or any sort of related difficulties. Planning the tour itinerary according to the residents’ schedules, trying to avoid the main streets, which could help to reduce congestion.
8. Knowledge, diffusion, and respect for rules relating to movement and especially for those relating to tourist mobility, such as: tourist group itinerary or locations for getting on and off and parking tourist coaches. The guide must call the driver once all the group is at the established pick-up point (hence avoiding a build-up of coaches on the road). Working together with the drivers makes it possible to provide an excellent service.
9. The prohibition of tourist guiding activities inside collective modes of transport (especially buses and trams), except when permission has been granted by the city’s transport operators.
10. Encouraging scheduled visits and pre-purchasing of tickets to improve public safety and access to the street. If tickets are bought at the monuments, museums or modes of transport, the queues must be respected.
REPRESENTATIVES OF BARCELONA’S “QUALITY”
Given their function as advocates and ambassadors of Barcelona’s story, culture, territory, and heritage, guides must promote
11. Knowledge of and respect for the rules relating to the street and recognition of civic agents and city police, respecting their orders and indications at all times. The information must be made available to guides so that they can find out about new rules, signs, and transportation routes that affect their activity.
12. Maintain up-to-date, objective, and extensive knowledge of the tourism resources and public spaces they visit and present to groups, without communicating prejudices and always exhibiting good skills in the language of communication. Explaining the local culture and habits can help visitors to understand the behavior and way of life of Barcelona’s residents.
13. The payment of taxes and fiscal, administrative, and labour fees attached to the activity of tour guiding on the streets.
14. The utmost respect for and compliance with the current Tourism Law, which regulates tour guiding in museums and spaces listed as National Cultural Heritage Sites (BCIN is the acronym in Catalan).
15. Tolerance, education, co-existence, and cordiality with the rest of the industry, groups, and local residents. The tour guide’s behavior during the activity can influence the conduct and social and environmental attitudes of visitors after the visit.
16. Joining the communication/coordination channels available between the municipality and professional tour guides: notices, alerts, relevant information, etc.