Felip Puig, Minister of Business and Labour of the Generalitat (autonomous government) of Catalonia, opened the conference by highlighting the tourism sector as one of the country’s three economic drivers together with the industrial and logistics sector and the knowledge economy. For Felip Puig, "it is a success for the country that we have equipped ourselves with infrastructures such as Barcelona port and airport and the future Mediterranean rail corridor, and with regulatory instruments and quality requirements which allow us to be prepared to compete in the new global tourism market of 7.5bn people”. He moreover defended a collaborative tourist policy with the joint participation of administrations, companies and tourist boards. "The public-private model is essential in order to make progress", he concluded.
Montserrat Candini, Mayor of Calella, also stressed the global dimension of tourism: "In 2013, 1.087bn people travelled around the world. This figure obliges us, as administrations, to take measures to aid the productive economy and the creation of wealth and jobs", she stated. For his part, Ignacio Escudero, Managing Trustee of the Agbar Foundation, recalled the importance of a sector "which represents 12% of Catalonia’s GDP, employs over 350,000 people and is one of the country’s economic drivers with growth prospects". In Calella, Agbar is participating as a technological partner in the water management PPP Gestaigua.
Public officials and agents from the tourist sector then participated on three round tables which debated the problems of the tourist sector in Calella and in other tourist locations of the Catalan coast, the country’s different successful tourist models (such as that of Girona and Barcelona), and the importance of infrastructures, both transport and energy or water management, for the efficient and sustainable development of tourism. On the first of these round tables, Marian Muro, Director General of Tourism of the Generalitat of Catalonia, stated that the tourist tax will not go up and established as a priority for her directorate general "to regulate tourist apartments and bring the informal economy that they generate out into the open".
Albert Martínez Lacambra, Director General of Agbar in Catalonia, closed the conference together with the Representative for Tourism of Barcelona Provincial Council, Ramon Riera, and the Mayor of Calella, Montserrat Candini.
World Tourism Day, promoted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, has been held every year since 1980 on the 27 September. It should be recalled that tourism represents 9% of world GDP and generates one out of every 11 jobs in the world.
New editions of the Water Circle are planned for this year. The next one will be on 16 October, with the presence of Leon Sandler, Executive Director of the centre for technological innovation of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Full information on the Water Circle’s activities can be consulted on the website www.cercledelaigua.cat.