Bookings for this weekend and Easter skyrocket due to end of county-level lockdown
Inland cottages and accommodation in Pyrenees among most popular destinations
Bookings for this weekend and for the Easter holidays have skyrocketed in the past few days, ever since the Catalan government lifted the county-level lockdown from March 15.
This is what the director-general of the Catalan Tourism Board, Octavi Bono, has told the Catalan News Agency (ACN), in a recent interview.
Most visitors are Catalan residents, and the most popular destinations include cottages in inland areas – in central Catalonia they are receiving an "avalanche" of bookings, according to the sector – as well as accommodations in the Pyrenees of Lleida and Girona, including in Cerdanya.
Rural places offering open-air activities are also popular, but some, like Oriol Baños, president of the Agrotourism Association of the Berguedà county, are concerned about the ban on members of more than one bubble travelling together to another county. "This will be a problem because some cottages only accept a minimum of 10 people," he said.
Elsewhere, according to Bono, for Easter some places in the Ebre river delta region and southwestern winegrowing region Terra Alta are already sold out, as well as some others on the Costa Brava, in the north.
Skiing more popular than sunbathing for Easter
Meanwhile, the coast has so far not been as successful. For instance, reservations in the Garraf county could reach 50% of the total capacity and with significantly lower prices than usual – in a normal pre-Covid spring weekend figures were around 70%.
In the Tarragona area, given the severe weather expected for this weekend, the activity is expected to be very low and at Easter, inland areas will gather more visitors than the coast. Meanwhile in Maresme, north of Barcelona, most hotels will still be closed and local – and obviously international – tourists are not expected yet.
The fact that Easter falls quite early this year has benefited the Pyrenees rather than the coast. "This has worked for the ski sector, because it can guarantee better conditions for skiing, but on the coast, the period between Easter and the beginning of the summer season in mid-May will be very long," said Bono.
Few bookings in Barcelona and places dependent on international tourism
In Barcelona, bookings are not picking up as much as in the inland and Pyrenees, because most of the visitors in the capital (83%) are international.
Some hotels, like 5 Star Mandarin Oriental, are beginning to open after a year without guests, and the lift of county-level lockdown has prompted more tickets sold for theatres and other shows.
"We are sure that a lot of people outside Barcelona come to the capital," said Barcelona's Tourism board director-general, Marian Muro.
The same low activity is expected to be recorded in the near future in typical international tourist hotspots, like Lloret de Mar.
Campsites not popular yet
As for campsites, the activity is expected to be very low in the upcoming weekend but the sector is hopeful to have some bookings for campers or tents closer to Easter, but bungalows will take more time to pick up.
"It is very complicated, everything is cancelled because the limit is four people and groups have to belong to the same bubble," said Barcelona's association of campsites' president, Francesc José Caballé, referring to the Covid-19 restrictions in force.