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Environmental innovation that serves society
New project on crisis and restructuring of tourist areas of the Spanish coast
| News| 30/03/2016

ENT Foundation will participate in the project “Crisis and restructuring of tourist areas of the Spanish coast” (CSO2015-64468-P) under the leadership of the University of the Balearic Islands with several other partners. The project is funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the National Program for the Promotion of Scientific and Technical Excellence.

The financial real-estate boom was particularly explosive in the Spanish tourist coast. Accordingly, several social, urban and environmental conflicts and tensions resulting from the boom and the ulterior crisis are placed there.

With the burst of the housing bubble and the economic collapse, political and economic actors have deepened the neoliberal turn as a strategy to adress the crisis, combining austerity programs with privatization and commodification policies. In the case of coastal environments, the aforementioned policies have consisted in boosting and restructuring tourism by means of renewing tourist cities and resorts, port transformations, and exploitation of natural areas and beaches. Furthermore, the ecological crisis resulting from urban-industrial metabolism should be added to the financial crisis.

The main objective of this project is to analyse the processes of transformation of the Spanish coast, through case studies in the Balearic Islands, Costa del Sol, Barcelona and Valencia. This requires a cross-disciplinary proposal to examine mature tourist areas under policies such as: renewal and urban and infrastructural development.

Specifically, the project will analyse policies, planning and governance mechanisms that have directly or indirectly affected tourism in the coastal areas during the current crisis. Planned, initiated or abandoned urban development projects within the sea and sun spots will be studied, as well as changes in ownership, and potential land-use and tourism supply. Also, the insertion of new spaces for tourism commodification will be analysed. In this respect, the following aspects will be developed: the (in)compatibility of these new uses with other sectors (e.g. fishing), spaces (e.g. coastal areas, port areas, natural areas); and its socio-ecological dynamics (e.g. social metabolism). Finally, the impacts of the crisis on the workforce and corporations that operate in tourist areas will be examined (particularly the relationship between tourism and financialization).

The project aims to show the tensions and contradictions between the historical coastal over-development in Spain and the developmentalist post-crisis policies deployed by the State and private actors.