Monday, 16 January 2012

Vilanova is much more – thanks to Sitges and Vilafranca

Do you believe that the tourism sector can play a bigger role for the social and economic development of the municipalities around Barcelona and that the number of day and short term visitors rapidly can increase with as much as 30%? Precisely this is what Diputació de Barcelona aims for with their new market plan. After having analyzed and evaluated 8.000 tourist attractions they have come to the conclusion that the province has many gems – beaches and sceneries, food and wine related tourist attractions, modernist architecture, popular culture plus rural, family and sports activities etc. – which even the inhabitants of the Catalan capital are quite unaware of.

To change this, Diputació launches the slogan "Barcelona is much more" (in Catalan: Barcelona és molt més; in Spanish: Barcelona es mucho más; in French: Barcelone, c’est bien plus), in short: BCN+, as an umbrella brand which will then be adapted to three different sub-regions: Costa Barcelona (obviously comprising Garraf, but also Alt Penedès) Barcelona landscapes (paisatges de Barcelona) (where we find Anoia) and the Pyrenees of Barcelona.

In order to guarantee maximum impact, the campaign will target clearly defined markets: Top priority will be given to Catalonia, Madrid, the Basque Country and Aragón in Spain plus Southern France, after this follows the rest of Spain and France plus Germany, UK and BeNeLux while the rest of the world will be considered lower priortiy.

And to guide those who arrive here to the most spectacular places and events, the plan highlights 18 productes estrella (literally star products, but I prefer to think of them as star assets) - the must sees: the human tower builders Castellers de Vilafranca, the wineries Torres, Codorníu and Freixenet, the motorsport race track Circuit de Catalunya, the towns of Cardona, Sitges Terrassa and Vic, the Church of Colònia Güell, the Festa Major (town festival) of Vilafranca, Sitges Film Festival, the Corpus Christi festival Patum of Berga, the emblematic mountain Pedraforca, the Monastery of Montserrat; the natural parks (Cadí-Moixeró, Montserrat and Montseny); the beaches of Garraf and Maresme, plus Carme Ruscalleda’s restaurant Sant. Pau and the restaurant Can Fabes (created by late chef Santi Santamaria).

Personally, I am highly impressed with this realistic market plan which dares to prioritize instead of proposing the typical “café para todos” which we tend to get whenever politicians are involved.

However, while I am content to note that six of eighteen top assets are located less than 25 minutes away from our doorstep, is see that our local newspaper presents the concept with a negative headline: Vilanova has no star in the campaign Costa de Barcelona”. And after a few seconds of thinking it strikes me that this probably more in line with the prevailing feeling in our town, full of complexes since the smaller neighbours, Sitges and Vilafranca de Penedès, yet again come across as smarter than we are. This is where I would want to remind all vilanonvins of two things: Firstly, as far as I interpret it, we have a star since we are natural part of platges del Garraf and that is more than what you find in eg. Sabadell although this is both a historic and one of the biggest towns in the province. Secondly, this is a pure marketing campaign – if we demand that all municipalities have a star asset, we will rapidly dilute any value of that classification.

So, unless this plan was too expensive (How much was it?), it has my full support. My only big remark from a branding point of view would be to, in coming editions, leave out Pirineus de Barcelona, although the comarca Berguedà forms part of the province of Barcelona. The Pyrenees is a huge asset and that is precisely why it should be promoted not as a far away fraction of Barcelona, but only as a major part of Catalonia, just as the Generalitat already does in cooperation with the provinces of Girona and Lleida. To "sell it" differently only confuses the tourists. Since the resources are scarce we must avoid sup-optimization.

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Regular readers of this blog might wonder why Baix Penedès is not included in this market plan. The reason is that this comarca is located in the province of Tarragona and belongs to the established tourism brand Costa Daurada.

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No sé, però em sembla miòpic que el Diari de Vilanova - que aspira a ser la referència comarcal -, presenta aquesta noticia amb el titular “Vilanova no té cap 'estrella' a la campanya Costa de Barcelona”. A la xarxa es poden fer canvis retroactivament i la meva recomanació i correcció seria: “El Garraf té fins a tres ‘estrelles’ a la campanya ‘BCN+’.

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Further reading:

CAT - Vilanova Digital: La marca turística 'Barcelona és molt més' es renova
SPA - La Razón: La Diputación quiere aumentar un 30% el turismo

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