Who we are
The company "San Sebastián Turismo-Donostia Turismoa, S.A.", was created after its passing of the 31 January, 2006 Statutes (it being a trading company) in a plenary session of the San Sebastian City Council, as a limited company wholly owned by the municipality.
It has as its objective the promotion, development and strengthening of the economic and social activities that contribute, whether directly or indirectly, to the advancement of tourism in the San Sebastian region.
Mission, vision and tourism model of Donostia / San Sebastián
Both our mission and vision offer a long-term picture of what Donostia / San Sebastian will be in the future as a tourist destination. They should be inspirational, define an ideal. They are conceptual expressions/statements. Therefore, they should be ambitious and inspirational and serve as a benchmark for the destination’s objectives. In other words, every big decision that determines the future of the sector should be consistent with these statements.
Our mission and vision take a long-term view. Tourism, as a cross-cutting activity, is a highly inert sector with a huge impact on the region. It requires long-term investment and creates interdependencies between different economic sectors. The process underpinning its core product, i.e. the territory, is by its nature “unique” and “immutable" as regards a strategic plan.
Therefore, from a sustainable perspective, the mission and vision must be defined for a timeframe of 15 to 20 years. Furthermore, they must be agreed upon and approved by the destination’s various stakeholders, to ensure that they are accepted, understood and endure over time.
Consequently, in the tourism mission for Donostia / San Sebastian, we propose defining the fundamental goals pursued by the city through its commitment to this sector. There are also big questions that need to be answered, such as:
- What role should tourism play in the city of Donostia / San Sebastian?
- Who should it broadly serve? Who are the main stakeholders?
The mission should be sufficiently precise to suit the project, but sufficiently generic and open-ended to accommodate operational plans with a short-term timeframe compared to the time line defined by the mission.
In turn, the vision offers us a long-term picture of what the city wants to be in the future. Namely, it should be inspirational and define an ideal for Donostia/San Sebastian.
Below, we have prepared our proposed mission and vision for tourism in Donostia / San Sebastian:
To drive the sustainable development of tourism in Donostia / San Sebastian, to showcase the city’s identity, coordinate the destination’s various stakeholders and place it in the international spotlight, through planning activities and smart tourism, destination management, development of the tourism offerings, services to visitors, promotion, communication and the marketing of products and services.
Donostia / San Sebastian is an open and cosmopolitan Basque tourist city which is an international leader and pioneer with an historic model based on the authenticity and excellence of the destination and the sustainable development of tourism.
Additionally, we propose the following inspirational principles for the Donostia / San Sebastian tourism model:
1) People (local residents and visitors) are at the centre of the tourism development model in Donostia / San Sebastian
Residents and visitors are at the centre of the model as the beneficiaries and key players of the tourism development policy (whatever is good for the locals is good for the tourists). Therefore, the visitor feels just like a local from Donostia/San Sebastian. They are not a mere spectator; they live and breathe the city.
Furthermore, the Donostia/San Sebastian tourism strategy proposes a valid model for modern urban development and improving the quality of life of its citizens.
2) The sustainable development of tourism
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.
Therefore, to achieve the sustainable development of tourism in Donostia / San Sebastian, we must consider the three key cornerstones of this concept: the economic aspects, the environmental aspects and the socio-cultural aspects.
In other words, the Master Plan for tourism in Donostia/San Sebastian aims to ensure that the development of tourism leads to an increase in economic activity, promotes respect for the socio-cultural values of the city, its inhabitants and its visitors, and that it has a minimal negative environmental impact on the region.
Therefore, it will also be necessary to take into account a number of important elements:
- Institutional leadership. It is necessary for the municipal government to take responsibility for setting in motion the changes that are required to establish sustainable production and consumption models.
- The ethical aspect. Donostia / San Sebastian’s community, and specifically the players involved in the development of tourism, must respect the very values of nature and the cultural identity and social organisation of the region. Furthermore, they must act responsibly, refraining from engaging in illegal practices that damage the development of the destination.
- Knowledge management. It is necessary to have a smart system that provides data about any changes that occur in the environment, in order to establish strategies that allow any impact that they may have to be corrected, as well as improving competitiveness.
- Social capital. It is essential for the local community and visitors to get involved in developing sustainable tourism.
- Management of the intangible assets of the tourism brand. It is necessary for destination management companies to understand, value and highlight intangible strategic assets such as talent, the brand and its reputation, information and communications systems and the destination’s visitors.
3) The city's identity
The tourism Master Plan for Donostia/San Sebastian proposes preserving the images and landscapes closely associated with the identity of Donostia/San Sebastian as a tourist destination: the tourist tradition, the Basque culture, the cuisine, the human scale, the hospitality, the cultural life, the cultural capital, etc.
It is these images of Donostia/San Sebastian that endure in the collective imagination of current target audiences and future visitors.
Donostia / San Sebastian is a destination with great tradition and extensive experience in the tourism sector. In fact, Donostia / San Sebastian was the tourism capital of Spain as far back as the Restoration period and, in 2012, some of the infrastructures that have played a pivotal role in the city’s tourism development turned 100 years old.
This sustainable development of tourism requires the participation of everyone involved in the destination: public and private stakeholders and civil society. Before we can talk about sustainable tourism, we have to introduce the concept of governance.
Therefore, Donostia / San Sebastian should promote tools that allow the region’s various actors to participate, share common principles, plan, strengthen decision-making and reach a consensus, to make the most of the opportunities and resolve any disputes. Governance specifically refers to cooperation between public and private stakeholders and civil society for decision-making and establishing strategies, in order to achieve the sustainable development of tourism.
In other words, governance is a necessary condition for there to be sustainability in tourism.
In the same vein, we have identified four keys to success for the governance of tourism:
- The existence of a strategic plan with a shared vision of tourism.
- Collaborative relations between the actors involved in managing tourism at a local level.
- Institutional capacity that ensures the effectiveness of public policies and tourism-related programmes.
- Citizen participation in the process.
6) A metropolitan and regional vision
The global growth of tourism requires the concept of the tourist destination to be revised. Cities that want to be competitive, like Donostia / San Sebastian, are forced to have more and better transport and accessibility infrastructures, more effective mobility and a more varied tourism value proposition. They should not only rely on the good use of resources that are in the city, but also those around it.
In other words, Donostia / San Sebastian must establish metropolitan and regional collaboration frameworks to meet the destination’s current challenges.
Therefore, the Master Plan for tourism in Donostia / San Sebastian proposes a dynamic and innovative destination model that takes into account the involvement of all regional actors in its implementation and development, creating synergies between them all, in particular on the Basque coast.
Tourism is a highly complex economic activity which has undergone a profound transformation in the last 20 years from a supply and demand perspective. In truth, it has gone from being a supply-driven sector to one that is driven by demand.
For decades, tourism typically had a rigid and unchanging offering, with an inflexible value chain and organisation. Tourist destinations had essentially been places which put together a tourist offering designed for a mass market, based on their resources and attractions. It was a tourism model in which there was little direct communication between the destination and the tourist, because communication and marketing were mainly handled by intermediates.
However, technological advances have dramatically changed this scenario. The internet has allowed tourists to have free access to information, no longer having to depend on the views of journalists, and it has also allowed them to access tourist products without the need for intermediaries.
Additionally, there has been an exponential growth in both the number of tourists and the number of destinations that have entered the tourism market in the last decade.
The internet has led to the emergence of new business models and new communication and tourist marketing channels, and it has also been instrumental in the emergence of new types of demand. Indeed, the impact of the internet has not only been reflected in tourism offerings. Tourists have also radically changed as a result of a new model of society. The modern tourist is a well-informed, demanding, experiential, hyper-connected and multi-channel customer.
This is a society in which, through their behaviour and preferences, individuals are changing the values of tourism and travel, which are radically different to what they were in previous decades.
Different lifestyles make it is impossible to talk about tourism, we have to talk about types of tourism. And away from mass tourism models, Donostia/San Sebastian is proposing small-scale strategies, targeting a very specific and demanding audience. Therefore, knowledge of the needs, preferences and behavioural habits of current and potential customers will be important when it comes to preparing the city’s tourism offerings and its promotion and communication channels.
- Effective and transparent management
- Public/private cooperation
- Respect for people
- Leadership of the tourism sector
Based on this model, our Information and Welcome Service was certified as fully accessible by the Basque Government in 2011 and is one of the few establishments that reaches the green level of accessibility in these core concepts.
From the moment that Donostia San Sebastián Turismoa was created, the company made a major commitment to getting San Sebastián recognised as a tourist destination based on the core values of creativity and excellence.
The work to make San Sebastián a high-quality destination includes SICTED and SMART BUSINESS (ICT) programmes.
SICTED is a methodology that provides a comprehensive, ongoing quality management system in a tourist destination with a new approach to expected results, a focus on continuous improvement, and an attitude of recovery and enhancement of resources and space. It is based on holistic knowledge about the destination and on the identification of common goals of the stakeholders involved.
Since 2008, Donostia San Sebastián Turismoa has participated in the SICTED (Integral System for Quality Tourism in the Destination, named after its acronym in Spanish) project, making a major commitment to working towards the recognition of San Sebastián as a high-quality destination. Unsurprisingly, we won the SICTED 2010 Best Tourism Quality Destination Award in 2010 (out of a total of 106 participating destinations), in recognition of our commitment to promoting, driving, and enhancing tourism quality in our city’s tourism companies and services. Likewise, San Sebastián also won SICTED 2013 Best Quality Manager Award, in 2014.
Smart Business is focused on improving the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in tourism companies by raising awareness and providing comprehensive support.
It focuses on improving the digitalisation of four areas:
- Systems and Technology
- Business and Processes
- Products and Services
Smart Business 2019 evaluated companies
- Hotel Avenida
- Hotel Ezeiza
- Hotel Mercure Monte Igueldo
- Kberbi New
- AB Domini Guest House
- Kursaal Guest House
- Ur-Alde Guest House
- Pukas Surf Eskola
- Taxi Donosti
- Donostia San Sebastián Turismoa
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is the body for the permanent governance and management of the Company.
Board of Directors
- Eneko Goia - President
- Hutsune Mendiburu - Vice-president
- Bixente Mirena Sacristán
- Borja Corominas
- Cristina Lagé
- David de Miguel
- Jaione Hervás
- Jon Markel Ormazabal
- Laura Larrión
- Laura Mateos
- Nerea Aramburu
- Raúl Fernandez
This is the body which provides counsel to the Company's Board of Directors.
- Alexis Mindegia (Complementary Services)
- Hutsune Mendiburu (Events, Meetings and Incentives Organization)
- Iker Goikoetxea (Infraestructures)
- Iñigo Ansa (Tourist Services)
- Laura Larrión (Inbound Travel Agencies)
- Laura Mateos (Gastronomy)
- Nerea Aramburu (Shops)
- Oscar Iparraguirre (Transports)
- Pilar Pascual (Museums, culture and leisure)
- Raúl Fernández (Accomodations)
Donostia San Sebastián Turismoa team
- Isabel Aguirrezabala- General Manager
- Eider Calderón- Deputy Director
- Ainhoa Córdoba- Head of Communications
- Carmen Baz - Head of Marketing
- Garikoitz Muñoz- Head of Tourist Destination Management
- Gorka Oiartzabal- Head of the Information Service
- María Arriaga- Head of Tourist Products
- Marijo Beltrán de Guevara- Head of Congresses and Events
- Natalia Iglesias- Head of Organization and Administration