Barcelona: What makes a world-class destination?

Tuesday 25 April: Earlier this month our Chief Executive Ros Morgan welcomed Commissioner for City Promotion for Barcelona, Pablo Solanilla Franco, as the sixth guest in our online webinar series.

Barcelona is the capital of the Spanish region of Cataluña and currently has a population of around 1.64 million. The interview centred around Barcelona’s ‘Green Deal’ economic agenda, what the city is doing to attract international talent and drive back tourism as well as its plans for maintaining social cohesion.

Pablo’s area of focus includes protecting Barcelona’s economic diplomacy, attracting international talent and events such as the 2024 America’s Cup and promoting Barcelona’s brand to entice global visitors.

Our top takeaways are:

  1. International talent is key to attracting foreign investment
  2. Sustainability should be at the forefront of urban planning
  3. Higher value tourism models can be a smart long-term solution
  4. It is vital to maintain social cohesion by investing in areas such as housing and education
  5. Welcome desks are an effective way to ensure international people seeking to live and work in a city feel welcomed and supported

Barcelona’s economic agenda is known as the ‘Green Deal’ and is based on three core pillars; continuing with a competitive city, digital economy, and basic innovation; sustainability, ensuring any economic activity tackles climate change and social cohesion; and ensuring the city remains a place with equal opportunities. Pablo reiterated the importance of modernising the city through the creation of technological districts to attract international talent. In 2022, there were only 4% of foreigners in the city compared to 24% in 2023. With 96 multinational digital hubs, Barcelona is now a city where many people choose to live and work.

Another item on the top of Barcelona’s agenda is sustainability in urban planning. 82% of people already commute on foot or by public transport. The government recently took the decision to provide the whole of Spain with free transport on trains for three months to aid post-pandemic recovery. Barcelona is clearly leading the way in sustainable travel and seeking to further increase the number of electric car charging points.

To end the interview Pablo revealed his definition of a world-class destination: a place that touches you emotionally. 

To watch the webinar in full, click here.

To stay up to date with our future events, please visit our events page here.