Catalonia’s recipe to restart the tourism sector

Catalonia’s recipe to restart the tourism sector

28 December 2020Public-private cooperation for the development of a sustainable tourism model has been the key focus in Catalonia, European Region of Gastronomy 2016 awarded by IGCAT to relaunch the region as an international tourism destination.

Through the Catalunya reStart Turisme initiative, developed in three phases between October and December 2020, the region aimed to draft a roadmap to ensure a sustainable future for the local tourism sector.

Followed by over 900 representatives of Catalonia’s tourism industry, the first session involved the directors of all 12 Catalan tourist offices abroad and invited their views on how the COVID-19 crisis is shaping the tourist demand of the international markets, as well as the threats and opportunities posed by the recovery.

The second phase included different meetings with 150 local tourism entities and enterprises to identify possible projects able to attract EU recovery funds and drive a transformation of the current tourism model, improving the competitiveness of Catalonia as a destination.

Finally, during the third session five possible actions were proposed to reactivate the Catalan tourism sector in 2021: the Plan for Touristic Innovation and Competitiveness, aimed at promoting digital transformation among all actors in the tourism ecosystem to achieve competitiveness and sustainability; the Plan for the Reactivation of MICE Tourism in Catalonia; the Plan for the extension of the neZEH project (Nearly Zero Energy Hotels) for the optimisation of the energy consumption in hotels and the elimination of emissions; the Plan for the Restructuring of Mature Coastal Tourist Destinations to improve their competitiveness through an increased environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability; and the Plan to Enhance the Social and Cultural Sustainability of Tourism to tackle the challenges posed by NECSTouR’s Barcelona Declaration for better balanced tourism models that equally benefit residents and visitors. 

“These actions have been co-created with the [tourism] sector and we want to develop them in an inclusive environment since, at this point in time, collaborative work is more important than ever,” explained David Font, Director of the Catalan Tourist Board.

At the third session of the Catalunya reStart Turisme initiative, international experts also remarked the vital importance of sustainability in the recovery process. For example, Maša Klemenčič, Project Manager of the Slovenian Tourist Board (Slovenia, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2021) highlighted the success story of the Slovenia Green brand that excellently managed to position the country as a strong international sustainable destination.  

Innovation and its crucial role for a restart of the tourism industry was also a central theme in the event, which concluded with the announcement of the enterprises Imotion Analytics, GoPopUp and Mooveteam as winners of the StartTechTour programme aimed to support post-COVID-19 recovery by attracting innovative projects to the tourism sector.

About the Regions of Gastronomy Platform   

Candidate and awarded Regions of Gastronomy, guided by IGCAT, are working together to raise awareness about the importance of their cultural and food uniqueness; stimulate creativity and gastronomic innovation; educate for better nutrition; improve sustainable tourism standards; highlight distinctive food cultures; and strengthen community well-being.


IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance to safeguard and promote distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets. This is essential to balance against globalised food trends that are impacting on our planet, health and local economies.

IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.

IGCAT provides the Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the Regions of Gastronomy Platform. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the Young Chef Award, the Local Food Gift Challenge, the Top Visitor Experience and the Food Film Menu.