Ski resorts and holiday cottages in Catalonia experience a quiet Christmas season
Hoteliers around Catalonia faced a difficult Christmas tourist season with occupancy rates that were below 50% in some areas. The only exceptions could be found in areas where snow attracted skiers, such as Val d’Aran and adjacent counties. In those areas there was an occupancy rate of between 70% and 85%. Rural tourism suffered its poorest results and does not forecast a recovery for 2012.
Barcelona (ACN).- This past Christmas holiday season had modest occupancy rates across Catalonia. Val d’Aran county, in the Central Pyrenees next to Aragon and France, has been one of the exceptions with an 85% occupancy rate due the visit of skiers to the area. Snow also saved the season for the Pallars Sobirà and Alta Ribagorça counties -both adjacent to Val d’Aran in northwestern Catalonia- with numbers hovering around the 70% mark. In Tarragona, in southern Catalonia, holiday cottages reached the same occupancy rate during New Year’s Eve, but their numbers dropped on Christmas Day and Three Kings Day. In Central Catalonia, occupancy was below 50% and the lack of snow at the ski station of Port del Compte, located in the heart of the Catalan pre-Pyrenees, has taken its toll on the establishments of Solsonès County. Hoteliers in the eastern area of the Girona Pyrenees were not satisfied either due to the inability to reach a 50% occupancy rate.
Hotels and accommodation in Val d’Aran county had high occupancy rates during the Christmas period due to the options for skiing. It was the Pyrenean county with the greatest tourist influx with 85% of hotel rooms booked almost everyday. Snow helped both Pallars Sobirà and Alta Ribagorça counties, and saved the season with a 70% occupancy rate on holiday days and an average of 50% over the rest of the holidays.
Occupancy in Lleida’s surrounding areas and those counties without snow was very poor, except for New Year’s Eve, when some holiday cottages in the countryside were booked. That weekend was the most profitable in the Pyrenees and the west of Catalonia.
Large numbers of tourists arrive at Lleida-Alguaire airport
Many of the skiers who visited the province of Lleida came from abroad –mostly from the United Kingdom– and used Lleida-Alguaire Airport as a gateway to their destination. On Sunday the airport experienced its greatest activity since it opened its doors. It has welcomed more than 1,800 passengers, taking roundtrip flights both from Palma de Mallorca and English airports into account.
Rural tourism suffers a downward trend in the Tarragona area
In the counties of the southern Catalan province of Tarragona, holiday cottages close the year with an average occupancy rate of 70% on New Year’s Eve and very low percentages on Christmas Day and Three Kings Day. The sector has indicated that rural tourism is on the decline and that visitors have changed their consumption habits: they spend less nights and less money on catering and local products. Priorat County is the sole exception: it reached an 80% occupancy rate during the Puríssima holiday and 85% on New Year’s Eve.
Catalonia’s Central counties below 50%
In Catalonia’s Central counties occupancy numbers were between 30% and 50% in most establishments. The small amount of fallen snow at the ski station of Port del Compte had a negative effect on Solsonès accommodation, which registered a 50% occupancy rate compared to last when they were full.. In Berguedà County, in the northern Catalonia, numbers did not reach 50%, while the southern counties of Central Catalonia registered a lower occupancy rate, hovering around 20%. However, overnight stays in the area generally depend more on cultural and business events than on long weekends and holidays.
“Weak” season for Girona’s hotels and ski resorts
Girona’s Hostelry Federation said that the occupancy rate in the province during the Christmas holidays had not exceeded 50%. Pyrenean ski resorts suffered the same negative results and described the numbers reached during the fifteen festive days as “weak”. Girona’s four ski stations stated that they will not reach the same numbers as last year. Cerdanya and Ripollès were the only counties to have a 70% occupancy rate. The Federation predicts that 2012 will be “a bad year in the tourism sector” for the counties of Girona.