Catalonia had 23.5 million tourists in 2011
Foreign tourists generated a record amount of revenue last year. The number of visitors also grew by 5.7% in 2011, according to the Catalan Government. Furthermore, Catalonia’s stand at Europe’s most important tourist fair, FITUR, has been declared the best in the current campaign.
Madrid (ACN).- 2011 has been a very good year for the tourism sector in Catalonia, both in terms of the number of visitors and the revenue that it has generated. According to the Catalan Government\u2019s Director General for Tourism, Marian Muro, 23.5 million people visited Catalonia in 2011, which represents a 5.7% increase compared to 2010. Another highlight is the record made by the revenue brought by foreign tourists, who generated \u20AC11.3 billion of income, 7.8% more than the previous year. The number of foreigners visiting Catalonia in 2011 grew by 4.6% last year. According to Muro, Catalonia has been prioritising quality tourism, and not the quantity of visitors. She was also satisfied to have reached an \u201Chistorical record of tourists spending in what has been a difficult year\u201D. Apart from foreign visitors, those coming from other parts of Spain grew by 6.4% and the number of Catalan citizens being tourists in Catalonia increased by 7.6%. Muro released the data at a press conference held in Madrid on Thursday, in Europe\u2019s most important trade fair for the tourism sector, FITUR. Catalonia\u2019s stand at the fair has been awarded the best, despite having a lower budget than other years.
The growth of visitors has directly benefited tourist accommodation businesses, which registered a 4.9% growth in visitor numbers and a 6.1% increase in the number of nights spent. Campsites have received 0.3% more clients but the number of nights spent grew by 5.3%. Holiday cottages have seen the number of clients increase by 3.9%, while the number of nights spent was 3.3% higher than in the previous year. Muro explained that the growth is among the Catalan Government\u2019s objectives, reached through providing low interest loans to SME tourist businesses through the Catalan Institute of Finances (ICF). Furthermore, Mura added that rural tourism has benefited from specific measures aimed at fostering its activity. However, she stressed that investments to broaden the sector have been few and far between\u201D as the Government does not want to make investments without the clear involvement of the private sector.
In 2012, the Catalan Government will improve the categorisation of tourist accommodation businesses, \u201Cso that the client can see which services and items are provided\u201D, Muro explained. Furthermore, she explained that wine tourism in Catalonia would be particularly promoted in 2012.
A push for the tourist offices
Another of the Catalan Government\u2019s objective for the tourism industry in 2012 is expanding the network of the tourist information offices, in order to have them marketing \u201Cfor the first time\u201D tourist products, she said. In this sense, the Catalan Government will open a tourist information office at the L\u2019Hospitalet-Gran Via venue of the Fira de Barcelona and will use the Centre Cultural Blanquerna in Madrid to show what Catalonia offers. In addition, the promotion campaign \u201CI like sharing\u201D, designed for the Internet and the social networks, will be launched early this year.
Looking towards emerging markets
The Director of the Catalan Tourism Agency, Xavier Espasa, explained that they are planning to close 15 deals with private companies to get \u20AC1 million of extra funds to allocate them in promotion. One of the objectives is to attract more tourists from Canada, India, China, South-East Asia, and the Pacific. For this reason the Catalan Government is looking for direct flights with those regions, such as the Singapore Airlines flight between Barcelona and the Asian city state. Regards the Russian market, which brought an incredible 625,000 visitors in 2011, forecasts expect a 10% increase in 2012.
FITUR\u2019s best stand with less money
Xavier Espasa also explained that the Catalan Government has reduced by 30% its space in FITUR, the most important trade fair in the tourism industry in Europe, which is organised in Madrid. In addition, the budget has been reduced to 25%, representing \u20AC525,000. However, Espasa explained that despite having less space, the stand focuses on promoting the different Catalan tourist brands and their products. The 1,300 square metre stand displayed the nine tourism brands and tourist products of 70 companies. It also allowed visitors to simulate driving with a Formula 1 car at the Circuit de Catalunya, tasting Catalan cuisine, or enjoying the landscape of the Costa Brava and Costa Daurada, or Barcelona Art Nouveau. It appears that the formula has worked well, as Catalonia\u2019s stand has been declared the best at the fair.