Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe. But due to the pandemic tourism was at a halt in the city. Not only in Barcelona but in other tourism-dependent countries as well. However, countries around the world are trying to bring visitors back to make their economic conditions better.
“There’s a total change of strategy,” said Marian Muro, director of Tourism de Barcelona, a public-private consortium. He was explaining the shift away from the general promotion of the city.
“Quality is more important than quantity” and greater respect from visitors to Barcelona’s residents are among the factors behind the city’s more segmented approach, she said.
New Tourism Tactics
This city is enhancing its new tourism assets. However, it plans to promote its local food and tech startup scene. It is also providing training to its travel agents on how to cater to Chinese visitors’ needs. So they can bring in more high spenders from there, as well as Southeast Asia and the United States.
Moreover, it is asking the tourism companies for health requirements and receiving a United Nations sustainable commitment label to guard against the pandemic. It has also signed a deal with Moscow to promote long weekend trips for culture and shopping.
Last year the city of 1.6 million received almost 30 million visitors. It includes day-trippers and some 14 million who stayed at least one night.
Before the pandemic, tourism made the locals not satisfied and there was no area for the residents to go to. The municipality took measures by restricting the hotel owners to open new hotels. However, this made the private sector criticize this decision.
Tourism contributes about 12% in Spain’s GDP. However, as per the United Nations record, it is the world’s second most visited country in 2018 after France.
However, international arrivals were 98% down in June from a year ago. It hoped to recover the tourism sector in July after the lockdown restrictions were lifted. But quarantines and no-travel advisories issued by many countries as various areas of Spain – Barcelona in particular – suffered an uptick in infections.
Most of the hotels in Barcelona were closed. Less than a third of Barcelona hotels are open and were only 20% full in July. The government of Catalonia predicts that the tourism sector will cause losses of at least 15 billion euros in the region. Direct spending from tourists reached around 8.8 billion euros in Barcelona in 2018, according to the city hall.
“The sector will need to adapt and learn to be more resilient because there will likely be more pandemics,” said Francesc Romagosa, head of research at Barcelona’s Autonomous University tourism school, noting it is a “great moment” to diversify the urban tourism model.