Catalonia's airports expect 8 million passengers this summer, twice as many as last year
Tourism sector will experience "recovery" despite welcoming 29% fewer visitors than in 2019
A total of 8 million passengers are expected to use Catalonia's airports this summer, twice as many as in 2021 – but still 29% fewer than in 2019 before the pandemic.
"2022 will definitely be the year in which the tourism sector experiences recovery," Albert Castellanos, a Catalan business and labor department official said on Monday during a debate organized by Catalonia's Economists' Association on regenerative tourism.
Tourism, Castellanos stressed, accounts for 12% of Catalonia's GDP and employs 14% of its labor force, generating over €21bn in direct expenditure.
Catalonia – and especially Barcelona – is one of southern Europe's top tourist destinations. And while it has become a pillar of the local economy, mass tourism raises other concerns: pollution from flights and cruises, precarious working conditions in the hospitality industry, crowding, and gentrification in trendy areas.
According to Castellanos, the solution to this is regenerative tourism – rather than sustainable tourism – as it improves the place that is visited instead of keeping it the same.
The head of Catalonia's Tourism Agency, Marta Domènech, who also attended the event on Monday, said the entity she works for is working on a proposal to achieve just that.
"We want to provide visitors with what they're looking for," she said. "High-quality tourism that is more diversified, not as seasonal, and not as concentrated in certain parts of the territory."