Catalonia second favourite tourist destination in EU
Ranking by Eurostat sees country overtake Île de France, while Canary Islands remain at top spot
Catalonia is the second favourite destination for tourists in the European Union, in a ranking of the most visited areas carried out by Eurostat.
It knocked Île de France off the spot, according to the annual list published by the EU's statistics office. The Canary Islands came in at number one.
Overnight stays increased to 79.8 million in 2016, 4.3 million more than 2015. This wasn't enough to knock the Canary Islands off the top spot, which remained the most visited part of the EU with more than 100 million overnight stays.
International tourism drops in July
This year, Catalonia received 6.7% less international tourists in July compared to the same period last year, with a total of 2,385,684 visitors. Despite this, foreign tourist spending actually increased during one of the biggest months of the summer season alongside August.
The drop in visitors spending their holidays in Catalonia has been put down to various factors. Among them is the fact that previous popular tourist destinations have been recovering.
Terror attacks in Tunisia and Egypt, for example, caused a shock to their tourist industries. Barcelona, one of the most popular destinations in Europe, was seen as a good alternative to these locations, deemed dangerous after the attacks.
Greece is also on the rise again as a popular summer holiday destination in Europe. “Markets that were closed have opened,” said the president of Barcelona Tourism, Jordi Clos, referring to Egypt, Tunisia and Greece
Last year’s terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils as well as the political turmoil at the end of the year during Catalonia’s push for independence may also have played a role in the decrease in numbers.