Record 8 million visit Barcelona between January and August

Council welcomes increase in numbers but warns tourism in city must be managed "more efficiently"


Tourists strolling down La Rambla in Barcelona (ACN)
Tourists strolling down La Rambla in Barcelona (ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 25, 2019 07:04 PM

Barcelona welcomed 8.1 million tourists in the first eight months of this year, accounting for a total of 22 million overnight stays, an all-time record for the city.

Some 14.6 million of those overnight stays were in hotels, with 7.5 million in dwellings rented out to tourists, with the number of visitors staying in tourist apartments rising by 14.2%.

They are some of the figures made public on Wednesday by the city council, although the official in charge of tourism, Xavier Marcé, warned the city "has to manage [tourism] better."

According to Marcé, the council is not "against" tourism but believes it has to be managed "more efficiently," so that visitors to the city have "more diverse" aims and expectations.

International visitors up, unemployment down

Despite the reservations, the latest figures show that the number of international tourists went up in the first eight months of the year, while unemployment in the sector dropped. 

Specifically, the number of foreign visitors in hotels rose by 8.5%, with the majority of tourists from abroad coming from France, the US, the UK and Italy.

While the number of Spanish visitors staying in hotels fell by 3.6%, their average length of stay remained at 1.7 nights, with foreign visitors staying 2.7 nights on average.

The number of tourists staying in apartments between January and August rose to 2.4 million, although the average number of nights they spent fell slightly to 7.5 overnight stays.

"Collaborative economy generates possibilities"

While Marcé acknowledged that "the collaborative economy generates many possibilities," the councillor also said it is "important" that demand adjust to the reality of the city. 

As for unemployment in the sector, it was lower in 2019 than in the same period the year before, and in all sub-sectors across the industry, from food to accommodation.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers using Barcelona airport also went up to an all-time record of 35.6 million from January to August, continuing a rising trend month-on-month that began in 2014.

Finally, the number of cruise ship passengers in the city rose by 5.4%, despite a fall in numbers in February and April, which was offset by good months in May, June and August.