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The use of signage as a tool for social integration in tourist cities: examples of relevant cases in Catalonia

Daniel Imbert-Bouchard Ribera (Barcelona School of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy CETT, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 1 June 2021

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021

98

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to expose the evolution in the use of the so-called reception tools and tourist information that are present at the time of consumption of a trip towards an interest in and a willingness to link local residents and tourists in a friendly, inclusive and conciliatory way. This is the case of territorial signage designed for pedestrians, a growing protagonist of the urban landscape of many cities, which has found in its formulation the appropriate response to unify the messages and criteria that are addressed to all audiences and people with all types of sensitivities.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on an extensive fieldwork study conducted in 2013 and 2017 in the 62 most populated cities of Catalonia, different variables related to the shape of the signage and the content presented in them were analysed. To this end, a specific pattern of ad-hoc observation and structured interviews were applied to determine the social transition of the content and approaches used in the signage.

Findings

While signage is initially considered to be a basic solution with purely informative content, poor in qualitative aspects and often neglected by those responsible for its management, over time it has emerged as a tool that serves to unify the interests of the citizens who share the same space for mutual interaction. It is characterised by providing open and transversal information for all citizens without focussing on or thematising tourism in an exclusive and segregated way, separating it from the rest of the aspects that make up the nature of the urban landscape.

Originality/value

This paper confirms that these tangible instruments of support for tourists, beyond seeking a harmonic fit in the urban planning of today's cities, are also complicit in seeking social cohesion in the present-day paradigm of the conflicts created by urban tourism.

Keywords

Citation

Imbert-Bouchard Ribera, D. (2021), "The use of signage as a tool for social integration in tourist cities: examples of relevant cases in Catalonia", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 294-312. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-03-2020-0037

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, International Tourism Studies Association.

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