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19 million tourists visited Catalonia in 2017, 5.5% more than previous year

Tourism decreased by up to 20% during last quarter, according to WTO

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10 January 2018 04:51 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

19.1 million tourists decided to spend their holidays in Catalonia last year, an increase of 5.5% compared to 2016, according to the government’s tourism department. Visitors spent just over 19 billion euros while in the country, 9.1% more than 2016.

Tourists coming from the United States increased by 27.9%, while 22.7% more Russians came to the country, followed by 7.3% more from the Netherlands. 

Decrease in last quarter

The new secretary-general of the UN’s World Tourism Organization (WTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, said on Wednesday that tourism in Catalonia decreased by between 15% and 20% during the last quarter of 2017. However, he demonstrated optimism that the number of tourists arriving “at the beginning of 2018 will grow.”

In an event organized by the New Economic Forum, Pololikashvili highlighted that the decrease in tourism was due to the terrorist attacks in August and “political problems.” Tension mounted between the Catalan and the Spanish administrations last autumn, with episodes including the Spanish police violence on October 1, the declaration of independence and the enforcement of direct rule from Madrid few weeks later. Pololikashvili pointed out that the WTO maintains “very good relations” with Catalonia. “We are interested in being in contact with one of the regions of Spain most visited historically,” he said.

He also spoke of phobia against tourism, stating that the governments of each city and region must “manage and regulate this situation.” He recommended that the arrival of tourists is not stopped, regretting that cities like Barcelona welcomed tourism before “but now it does not want them.”

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  • Tourists disembarking a Ryanair plane at the Girona-Costa Brava airport (by ACN)

  • Tourists disembarking a Ryanair plane at the Girona-Costa Brava airport (by ACN)