Phd Thesis in progress

Arias Sans, A.

Reassembling tourism as a political issue. An analysis of the controversy surrounding the regulation of access to the Park Güell, Barcelona.

Directors: Antonio Paolo Russo (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) & Ignacio Farías (Technische Universität Munchen)


This thesis discusses the political issue of tourism through the analysis of the controversy surrounding the regulation of access to the Park Güell in Barcelona. The research is based on the participatory-action fieldwork between 2009 and 2013, the period when different plans to face the overcrowd of the park were presented and discussed, opening up a controversy surrounding it. The hybrid relational approach embraced in this thesis – specially influenced by Actor-Network Theory -, leads to reassemble tourism as a political issue by overwhelming and multiplying preset frames of political action surrounding tourism issues in the city; by expanding the ecology of the practices, materials and agencies that compose tourism places; and finally, opening some discussions about the claim for the right to the tourist city.



Bassols, N.

Producing, Consuming and Branding “Dual” Destinations. The case of Cartagena, Colombia.

Director: Antonio Paolo Russo


This work deals with the development, tourist processes and branding of destinations having two big “attractions”, in this case built heritage and “sun and sand”, as we specifically focus on Cartagena, Colombia. First, the production of tourist space in the city is analysed, following an historic-discursive approach but then looking closer at policy issues which have shaped the place over the last hundred years. Subsequently, the research deepens into the actual spatial patterns and mobilities of visitors by studying the behaviour of tourists within the destination.  We do so by looking at the images and tracing the routes which can be retrieved from the Internet. The final section of the research proposes then a holistic branding theory, i. e. a branding encompassing all of the attractions of a place and communicating them, putting this proposal to work in Cartagena.



Olano, J.

Urban transforamtion models of catalan tourist destinations: metropolitan integration of cataln coastal cities based on creative class development. The case of the Penedès Marítim.

Directors: Dr. Salvador Anton Clavé (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) & Dr. Francesc González Reverté ( Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)


This thesis working hypothesis is the existence of a determined territorial attractiveness beyond physical proximity to its nearby metropolitan city core resulting in residential election of touristic destinations. Such attractiveness can influence creative and other workers to elect these locations to dwell, therefore transforming physical and symbolic appearances of both cities and its inhabitants resulting in new uses to the urban space that build up, symbolically, its very own landscape. Based on the analytic results of the thesis we hope to obtain a main conclusion: to expose the urban character of tourist municipalities and how it has changed  the  very tourism itself; having attracted new residents, generated economic synergies and caused social and symbolic transformations of the studied locations. The research area is the Penedès Marítim, a multicèntric linear city between metropolitan areas of Barcelona and Tarragona.



Quaglieri, A.

In the interstices of the tourist city. Ethnographic study of mobile populations and the construction of place.

Directors: Antonio Paolo Russo (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)


This thesis aims to develop an analytical framework for the analysis of communities, flows and spaces in the case of a residential neighborhood in the frame of a global urban destination such as the case of el Raval of Barcelona. The consideration of its articulated and dynamic social morphology produced by transient mobile populations brought up the question of what tourism means in a residential context like that and how to understand tourism experiences in the complex everyday of contemporary cities.

In this sense, this work argues that the adoption of the mobility discourse can help to overcome the dual vision of tourism and everyday life, hence, the “anthropological” contraposition between visitors and residents in terms of interests, experiences and spatial patterns. The analysis, thus, seeks to highlight transversal affinities, spatial encounters and new relation of power between segments of tourist and resident populations.

The study, thus, aims to identify, on the one and, shared practices, narratives and places of “convergence” where tourists and other mobile populations are involved in the construction of the cosmopolitan scene; on the other hand, the analysis is intended to shade light on the circular relation between tourism and other urban dynamics in the boost of the contradictions featuring the neoliberal city.



Santos, R.

Assessing climate change vulnerability of coastal destinations through Policies Analysis. A comparative study between Costa Daurada and Riviera Maya.

Director: Dr. Òscar Saladié Borraz


This thesis examines the vulnerability of sun sand and sea destinations dealing with climate change by using Policies Analysis techniques.  The research is mainly based on content analysis of public policies documents, such as tourism plans or adaptation and mitigation strategies. It is also complemented by qualitative techniques aimed to gather information not only about stakeholders and decision-makers perceptions, but also about practice and implementation of aforementioned strategies in a smaller scale such as the accommodation sector. Hence, this comparative study between Costa Daurada and Riviera Maya is expected to enhance the knowledge on tourism public management in general, and particularly on strategies related to adaptation and mitigation to global change. All in all, the research conducted will contribute to improve planning tools in terms of public interest and sustainability of coastal destinations.



Sanz, C.

Innovation and Competitiveness in Consolidated Coastal Tourist Destinations. Approaching the Analysis of Local Tourism Destinations Dynamics

Director: Dr. Salvador Anton Clavé


The thesis aims to bring new insights for the understanding of how and why destinations -especially, consolidated coastal destinations- change over time. Particularly, the research conducted seeks to help advance and integrate extant research on tourism destinations evolution and organisation by drawing inspiration on analytical approaches from emerging paradigms in Economic Geography -namely, Evolutionary Economic Geography and Relational Economic Geography. More precisely, the research explores the notions of human agency, contextuality and path dependence as interconnected mechanisms that underpin destination long-term dynamics. Therefore, it focuses on the analysis of: 1) the effects of stakeholders’ action and interation on the evolutionary performance of destinations (human agency); 2) the adaptive capacity of destinations in front of dynamics of local and gobal change (contextuality); and, 3) the enabling and constraining long-term effects of decisions and events occurred in the past (path dependence). The research will be based on the case study of central Costa Daurada (Catalonia).