domingo, 1 de julio de 2012

Tourism and urban mobility "ad hoc"

Versión en español

In anterior articles of this blog I’ve described the evolution from mere transport to mobility, a change which is not brought about by substitution of values and concepts but by addition of new values and new concepts to the existing once and thus causes the expansion of this phenomenon. If we add to the interest transit or comfort have for transport and mobility, “religance” and health, we will advance in a concept of mobility that does not deny the past but one that enriches it with its own evolution. These changes are producing themselves as a consequence of a more ecological and mature social perception of our economic system and of the dominating ideology which manifests itself in other social contexts as planetfriendly or slow food.

George Amar supports the idea that mobility is an integral part of the city. The adherence of each type of transport is linked to its users, to a greater or lesser extend to the territory and probably has an influence on the relations we establish while travelling. When we decide to move we do not only want to go from point A to point B; in most cases we also want to make a different use of our time. This concept of time while we travel is of greatest interest for one of the most important economic sectors of Spain: tourism. Let us draw our attention to the use tourism makes of some of the aspects related to mobility.

Tourism finds in time and landscape two of its most important economic resources, and mobility – in the widest sense of the word – is the vector that puts them at its disposition. For this reason the integration transport shows with the sector of tourism is not at all strange. In this article I will focus on tourism and a determined urban mobility.

Mobility is an essential asset for tourism when we link it to pleasure (to drive a car, to ski, to blade, to climb mountains, to walk,…). The pleasure to move is a value that is exploited by many tourist companies as we are going to see in the next paragraphs. Tourism is framed by activities which are centralized in mobility – which can be active like hiking or biking – or passive like renting a car or a motorbike – and capable to attract many people in order to pass an agreeable and attractive time. The clearest example for mobility and leisurely time use are the cruises and the touristic trains, where the combination of the factors time and landscape are appreciated with a common denominator which gives a special sense to the journey: the itinerary, which is commissioned with a value of its own, the payment is not so much for the distance, but for the time and the services enjoyed.

The localities employed for tourism create their own mobility in answer to the necessities of this kind of economic activities. Very peculiar transport means emerge which only make sense if there are tourists to use them. The photos I’ll show you in continuation are taken in an area very close to the harbour of Barcelona with a comprehensive touristic usage. I would like to stress the promiscuity of the transport means offered by the city in these spots, so that the tourists can get to know their surroundings in a short time. It took me less than an hour to take photos of the vast variety of the means of transport which are circulating there.

Trixi near to Barcelona's harbour

Rickshaw in Barcelona

However, this economic sector also has negative aspects, which should not be forgotten. Tourism tends to consume very concrete spots of a city (normally the symbolically most significant) and it is effectuated in a very concrete time. The intensive use of these spaces increases notably the problems of mobility between tourists and locals. In an article in the newspaper La Vanguardia “Ciutat Vella Low cost” (11.06.2012) this set of problems is reflected in one of the districts of Barcelona. In this article concepts are mentioned like the vulgarization of the city by the appearance of touristic itineraries centered in alcohol, a derivation from the phenomenon of globalized mass tourism, which can affect the relationship and social coherence in the most affected places. Another clear example in Barcelona would be the intensive usage of the space surrounding “La Sagrada Familia” where the stationing of the tourist buses and the streams of guided tourists are restraining daily the neighbourhood of the monument, and make the intervention of the authorities to regulate the usage of this public space necessary.

tourist coach
Tourist coach

Guided visits by seaway
Guided visits by segway

Las golondrina
Barcelona's Port "Las golondrina"

Barcelona Bus Turístic
Touristic bus

On the other hand, urban mobility generated by tourism could be a partially unknown reality for many citizens living in more remote districts of the town and they only come across this phenomenon punctually in certain places or streets.

Another aspect which attracts our attention is that the majority of the activities connected with the touristic mobility related to the mass tourism repeat themselves in the same way no matter in which city of the world we are: Gocar, Tuk-Tuk, Vesping, Ricksaw, Trixi, Segway, touristic buses,…in short its an urban mobility designed for tourists.

A last aspect to be mentioned about mobility and tourism is the slow but steady implementation of digital mobility, Internet and the geo-localization of any place of interest. This relation is being developed on the basis of a new concept: The infomobilty. The virtual world is full of information which explains, how, when and where we can go, an information which is available to millions of human beings, thus creating a potentiality which could be exponential and which could provoke mass tourism. The places we see through the screens of our computer, smartphones or tablet-pcs can generate in many people (for circumstances which sometimes are difficult to explain) the necessity to go and actually be there. This phenomenon in the on-line world is reactivating mobility in the physical (off-line) world. Infomobility is creating new opportunities and activities for tourism and interchanges between individuals, who travel to or from any place in the world.  

By the way, if the crisis has not hit you too hard, have you already thought about where you want to spend your holidays?

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