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16.7 million foreign tourists visited Catalonia in 2014, a new high and an increase of 7.2%

Despite a decrease in Russian visitors, Catalonia increased the number of international tourists it hosted during 2014. Some 16.7 million foreigners travelled to Catalonia last year, which sets a new historic record. In addition, it represents a 7.2% increase on 2013 figures. International visitors spent more than €15 billion during their stay, 6.1% more than in 2013. Therefore, foreign tourism accounted for some 7.5% of Catalonia’s entire GDP during 2014. Each tourist spent an average of €900 during their stay. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, presented the figures on Wednesday and emphasised that the objective for future years is not so much to increase the number of tourists but rather to increase the revenue which they bring in. 

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14 January 2015 08:02 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Despite a decrease in Russian visitors, Catalonia increased the number of international tourists it hosted during 2014. Some 16.7 million foreigners travelled to Catalonia last year, which sets a new historic record. In addition, it represents a 7.2% increase on 2013 figures. International visitors spent more than €15 billion during their stay, 6.1% more than in 2013. Therefore, foreign tourism accounted for some 7.5% of Catalonia’s entire GDP during 2014. Each tourist spent an average of €900 during their stay. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, presented the figures on Wednesday and emphasised that the objective for future years is not so much to increase the number of tourists but rather to increase the revenue they bring in. As reflected in these figures, Catalonia continues to lead the Spanish market, hosting 26% of all the foreign tourists who visit Spain.


Despite the difficult global context, with many countries recording a reduction in economic growth and with tension between the European Union and Russia, the Catalan tourism sector has posted positive figures for 2014 in terms of the number of international visitors and their spending levels. Felip Puig highlighted the “strength” of the sector and its ability to cope with difficult times. In fact, according to the Catalan Minister, the number of Russian tourists dropped by 15% in 2014 compared to the previous year. During the last few years, Catalonia became a major destination for Russians. In 2013, around 90% of the Russians visiting Spain went to Catalonia, reaching almost 1 million visitors. “We share some concerns about this issue, but the [Catalan] Government’s strategy is not to exclusively focus on the Russian market”, stated Puig. 

During 2014, many markets increased their figures. The number of tourists coming from France grew by 9.7%. Those coming from the United Kingdom increased by 5.6%; Germany by 12.3%; Italy by 19.9%; and the Netherlands by 17.1%. However, the number of tourists from the United States dropped by 9.8%. According to Puig, this drop is due to the extremely high number of American tourists registered during 2013 travelling through cruise ships. Puig welcomed the figures from the Western markets but insisted that the Government will continue to attract further visitors from the rest of the world and particularly from emerging economies such as China and Brazil.

Domestic tourism figures improve

2014 was also the year in which the number of Catalan and Spanish tourists recovered from the crisis years. “The economic crisis has started to change its cycle. If the number of [domestic] tourists has grown, it is because of this”, Puig stressed. The number of nights per stay has increased overall by 1.5%, particularly thanks to Catalan tourists (+9.2%) and those from the rest of Spain (+4.5%), which have compensated for a drop in the number of nights stayed by international visitors (-1.3%).

In addition to this, the Catalan Minister recognised that foreign tourists have spread themselves between Barcelona, “which plays at the world league”, and the rest of Catalonia, “which plays at the European league”. However, there is “a slightly unbalanced situation” between the rest of Catalonia and its capital, which concentrates much of the foreign visitors. In this vein, Puig stated that the Catalan Government will continue to implement an “ambitious policy of tourism promotion”, which is funded by the €40 million raised through the tourist fee in 2014. 

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  • Tourists arriving with a cruise ship at Palamós, in the Costa Brava (by ACN)

  • Tourists arriving with a cruise ship at Palamós, in the Costa Brava (by ACN)