International tourists to Catalonia up 101% last year on 2020

Government to focus on recouping visitors from the US, Asia, South America and secure national travelers

Catalonia's Tourism stand at Madrid's FITUR fair on January 19, 2022 (by Andrea Zamorano)
Catalonia's Tourism stand at Madrid's FITUR fair on January 19, 2022 (by Andrea Zamorano) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

January 19, 2022 05:40 PM

Catalonia received 5.6 million international visitors in 2021, up 101.3% on 2020. Business minister Roger Torrent announced the figures while visiting Madrid’s tourism fair FITUR on Wednesday. 

Visitors spent €4.95 billion, around €954 per person, during their stay, numbers Torrent said represented the "start of the recovery," despite still being lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why 2022 will be the "recovery" year.

The United States, South America, and Asia are the main market objectives as the tourism board "tries to recover international tourism levels," tourism board director-general Marta Domènech said.

Meanwhile, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany are considered safe markets as they can travel by car and have been key during the pandemic, the director-general added.

Domènech also assured that the executive is "pleased" with the number of visitors Catalonia received as there are still several pandemic "circumstances" that complicate traveling.

In 2021, overnight stays surpassed 52 million, 209% more compared to the previous year, but still 43% lower than 2019. The majority of these stays happened in the Costa Daurada, Catalonia’s southern coast, with July, August, and September being the months with most overnight stays.

Barcelona airport sees increases in passengers

Barcelona airport ended 2021 with 18,874,896 passengers, a 48.2% increase in passengers on 2020 when lockdowns and border closures were far more commonplace.

However, data provided on January 11 by Spain's airport authority, Aena, showed a 64.2% decrease compared to 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, when some 52 million people landed in or departed from Barcelona El Prat.

In the last 12 months, Barcelona airport registered 163,679 operations, 52.5% less than in 2019 but 33.5% more than in 2020.