Tourism: Local Perspectives and Global Trends


 “There are no experts in tourism, we are all learners”. This affirmation of Agustín Santana reveals the attitude by which the participants of the seminar “Tourism: local perspectives and global trends" focused the phenomenon of tourism in its many facets to situate moments, experiences and tourism practices in different contexts. The conference organized on 21st May by CIDOB and supported by the Europe for Citizens program wonder “if the tourist when he travels is a traveller or something more”, or if nowadays “the tourist has become a mere consumer”.


The seminar took place at a time when tourism is the central point both in political debate and in the rest of civil society. According to the WTO, in 2014 1.138 million tourists travelled abroad. The objective of the seminar was to point out the present situation of tourism from diverse disciplines of study. This interdisciplinary sharing of the current situation of tourism within the global processes allows us to better understand the tourism phenomenon.  

The meeting was addressed to an audience mostly represented by technicians, academics, researchers and professionals operating in tourism industry. It included also the participation of speakers with different academic profiles that highlighted the understanding of this complex system. The contributions of sciences like economics, geography, anthropology, law, leisure and tourism studies helped to analyse the multifaceted tourism phenomenon. The themes which were dealt concerned the political-legal nature of tourism, the tourism mobility in cities and urban contexts and with the cultural meanings involved.  

The day was divided into three sessions: “Tourism and rights: tourists, hosts, consumers”; “Mobility and tourism scenarios” and “Touristic Cultures: interaction and experience” that were the themes of the day. 

The seminar highlighted the complexity of tourism and the challenge of touristic places and inhabitants hosting thousands of tourists every year. During the introduction, Yolanda Onghena, senior researcher at CIDOB, noted that tourism is the product of several confluent elements which have to be established in political, economic, cultural and certain social contexts. 

One of the aspects covered during the day was the contrast between the right of tourists, the right of tourism and the right to tourism. The seminar has revealed the need for “Tourisprudence”. The seminar presentations also highlighted the tourist’s profiles and new types of tourism experiences. It has also been pointed out that "the tourist is a great unknown and a revolutionary because he is unable to change the world but he can certainly change his world" and tourism mobility is not a change of place but a change in the perception of the place. So we are witnessing a "genetically modified tourism" and "the great obsession for security" has almost "militarized tourism". "Tourism changes" and "new form of hospitalities" are born by these recent scenarios and debates on the tourism phenomenon and so it is clear that we are witnessing a “turn in tourism studies”.  

The seminar has faced the tourism phenomenon from different disciplines and world perspectives and in this way constitutes the beginning of an open debate to understand where tourism is going.