Britons already booking summer holidays over vaccine optimism, say Catalan tourism officials
Catalonia’s Tourism Agency says Brexit will have no negative impact on the sector
After the number of British tourists arriving in Catalonia collapsed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, bookings for late summer and even 2022 are on the rise, raising hopes that the vaccination rollout will boost the recovery of the tourism sector, and the impact of Brexit will go almost unnoticed.
"The evolution of the pandemic and the capacity of UK authorities to immunize its citizens through vaccination will determine whether British tourists come back sooner or later," said the head of the Catalan Tourism Agency, David Font, in an interview with Catalan News.
Fears that Brexit could have a negative impact on Catalonia’s tourism industry vanished after it became clear that British citizens could continue to visit the EU for short periods of time without problem, as they could spend up to 90 days in its Schengen zone during any 180-day period without needing a visa.
According to Font, British visitors spend 6-7 days in Catalonia on average, far below the 90-day threshold. Unlike other Spanish regions like Andalucía, says Font, Catalonia doesn’t have a substantial number of British citizens with a second residence where they live several months every year—something that the travel restrictions derived from Brexit would not allow.
In 2019, the UK was the second country of origin for tourists arriving in Catalonia, preceded by France and followed by the United States. Some 2.2 million Britons visited Catalonia, representing 11.6% of the total 19 million tourists registered two years ago.
While Font is confident that new Brexit regulations will not reduce the number of Britons visiting Catalonia, he believes that the UK’s departure from the UK could however have an impact on the Pound Sterling’s value, especially in relation to the euro.
"If the Pound Sterling’s value skyrockets and the euro becomes stronger, coming to Catalonia will cost Britons more money," says Font.