Catalonia braces for record number of tourists
Coastal destinations to feel the brunt with occupancy rates of over 90%, while top inland choices expect 8 out of 10 rooms to be full in August
Catalonia is preparing for yet another mass arrival of tourists this summer. The sector is expecting record-breaking occupancy figures, with Barcelona city apartments at nearly a 100% in for the whole summer. Meanwhile, the main coastal towns and resorts expect nearly full occupancy rates in July and August, with inland tourist spots up to 80% in August. Many occupancy rates are expected to set a new post-crisis record, with some figures reaching 2006-2007 levels, often seen as the best years before the recession broke.
Optimism is everywhere in the sector and all around the country, especially after a good start in June. Some places have already noticed healthy booking levels in June around Midsummer’s Eve, largely due to the sunny weather in the past few weeks. Most visitors are European, with the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands among the countries contributing the most tourists. After a boom of Russian tourists a few years ago and then a sudden decline, this year the figures for the Eastern European country are expected to rally.
In Barcelona, the Association of Tourist Apartments predicts seeing ‘sold out’ signs nearly everywhere, and the same can be said of nearby t campsites. Hotels have still not calculated their expected occupancy rate. However, while the sector is rubbing its hands over the coming season, not everyone in the Catalan capital is so enthusiastic. According to a survey published by the local council on Friday, tourism is for the first time the top concern of Barcelona residents. Almost one in five say that it is the most serious problem the city is facing, up 8 percentage points compared to six months ago.
In the nearby coastal regions of Garraf and Maresme, seaside towns popular with tourists, such as Calella, Santa Susanna and Malgrat de Mar, hotels expect a 93% occupancy rate in July, and just under 100% in August. While the number of British visitors is expected to grow in Garraf, Russian numbers are set to recover in Maresme. At the same time, the Tarragona coast (Costa Daurada), with Salou as the top destination, the all-time record of 19.7 million overnight stays set in 2006 could be broken this year. Irish, Italian and Russian tourists are likely to increase in number by more than 30% compared to last year. Meanwhile, Costa Brava, with Lloret de Mar the top choice, also estimates occupancy rates to be above 90%, whereas in the Ebre River region most accommodation will be fully booked in August.
In central Catalonia, with Montserrat Mountain as the main highlight, figures could reach 80% in August. Similarly, figures are expected to rise in the Lleida area, with 9 out of 10 lodgings expected to be full in August. Furthermore, businesses offering adventure and nature activities, a main attraction in summer, are also looking forward to a profitable summer. It is a feeling shared by the tourism sector of Girona city, in the east of the country. According to hotel owners, foreign visitors from places like Belgium and the Netherlands will be on the rise after other destinations, such as Turkey and Egypt, are declining because of concerns about their safety in recent years.