Luis Barcala, mayor of Alicante, has ‘registered’ the city in the struggle with Madrid and Seville to host a Hermitage Museum franchise. Infrastructure would attract an additional 850,000 tourists in its first year, according to the accounts made by other applicants.
A few days ago, the vice presidents of the Generalitat Mónica Oltra (Compromís) and Héctor Illueca (Podemos) agreed to include the tourist tax in the budgets that the Generalitat Valenciana prepares for 2022. Almost in parallel, the Minister of Culture, Vicent Marzà (Compromís) He proposed to acquire for the Generalitat Valenciana the part of the property of the Principal Theater (the most important in the city) that corresponds to the Alicante City Council.
Both questions were considered almost as an affront. The City Council rejected both initiatives. On the one hand, it reassured the tourism sector with a resounding no to the tourist tax. On the other, first informally and then officially, He also rejected the offer of the Ministry for the Main Theater, considered almost as a ‘hostile bid’ towards the Consistory. However, the City Council has not limited itself to resisting both stakes, but through a letter addressed to Marzà by Barcala himself has gone on the attack, requesting financial support from the Ministry of Culture, in particular, and the Generalitat Valenciana for the city of Alicante to host the Hermitage Museum franchise, to which, until very recently, Barcelona aspired and for which, now, Seville and Madrid are also applying.
The ‘withdrawal’ of Barcelona has in its origin the differences between the Port Administration Council, which approved in May to grant the license to the project, without waiting for the decision of the Local Government of Ada Colau, which had requested more time to study the proposal . In fact, the municipal representative on the Board of Directors voted against granting the license, as did the mayor of El Prat and the state attorney. Only three votes out of fifteen, but of great political depth.
Also, Madrid and Seville opted for this world-renowned cultural infrastructure. The reason is that the Hermitage franchise, accompanied by proper investment and planning, can boost up to 850,000 visitors the first year, according to the accounts made by other applicants. Something that, for Alicante, would mean a brutal economic injection and boost to employment in the first sector of the Province: Tourism. And it would help you get back on track after the devastating impact produced by the Covid crisis and the threats that come from Valencia in the form of the aforementioned tourist tax.
For this reason, in the letter he has addressed to Marzà, Barcala shows that the city of Alicante “without any doubt” deserves “more resources and more attention to enhance its cultural offer” and adds that, to carry out this bet, the Generalitat Valenciana must be involved in a much more decisive way, exceeding budgetary percentages such as that of the very poor 7% that Marzà has allocated to the Province of Alicante “that do not do justice or support good intentions.”
The aid requested by Barcala would be used for two purposes. One, finance the acquisition of the franchise. The second, the remodeling of the space destined to the location of the Hermitage. TOlicante is the first and only city in the Valencian Community that, so far, has applied for the Hermitage franchiseTherefore, in addition, Barcala hopes that no other last minute competitor will come out at the regional level.
The city of Alicante currently has an international reference museum: the Marq, an archaeological museum that was recognized in 2004 as the best in Euopa, so Barcala’s commitment goes further and, in some way, aims to place Alicante as a museum reference in the European tourist board with four axes: the Hermitage, the Marq, the Alicante Auditorium (Adda) and the future conference center that the president of the Alicante Provincial Council, Carlos Mazón, and Barcala himself advance. Too, it would be a way to differentiate itself from other nearby tourist offers, based on the ‘sun and beach’ model.
If Marzà, Oltra and Puig accept Barcala’s proposal, it will be known soon, because at the end of this month of October the Budgets of the Generalitat Valenciana for 2022 must be presented to the Valencian Courts. And those accounts should contain an item or an important part of a game destined for the Hermitage. Barcala has not only lowered the ball from his court: he has placed it in that of the Generalitat: action-reaction.