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Tourists give Barcelona the thumbs up

The CNA talks to the city's visitors to see what they really think of the tourist services. According to the Barcelona Tourism Statistics division, since 1990, visitors have increased from under 2 million to over 7 million and the number of those staying overnight has increased from 3 million to 14 million

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04 August 2011 08:38 PM

by

Caitlin Smith

Barcelona (CNA).- In 2010 over 14 million tourists came to Barcelona to spend a day taking in the sights. Yet with 71 gardens to get lost in, 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites to discover and 4.5 km of beaches to walk along do tourists find the 101km² city hard to navigate? \u201CNo!\u201D is the resounding answer that the CNA got when it went out to ask holiday makers what they thought of Barcelona and its tourism services.


The tourism industry has boomed in Barcelona in the last 20 years. According to the Barcelona Tourism Statistics division, since 1990, visitors have increased from under 2 million to over 7 million and the number of those staying overnight has increased from 3 million to 14 million. One of its key attractions is its status as a tourist destination, a city which is welcoming to visitors and easy to get around. "Barcelona's a very easy city to get around in, there are information signs everywhere and people you can ask and you are a very friendly country so it's simple" a holiday maker from Denmark told us. Two students from Holland confessed, "We don\u2019t really have a plan but from that you can say it's very easy to be a tourist here, you can get around very quickly and it's all so fun!" This popularity has been facilitated, largely by the official Tourism office, the Turisme de Barcelona consortium founded in 1993 by the Municipal council, Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping and the Barcelona Promocio Foundation. Its aim is simple, to "promote Barcelona as a tourist destination" through a range of free and commercial ventures. "Every year Turisme de Barcelona carries out some 400 promotional activities" they say, including the ever popular Tourist Bus, which is expected to have almost 2 million customers this year. The most attractive tourism feature amongst the tourists that we spoke to are the Tourist Cabins situated in nine locations throughout the city including Plaça Catalunya and Estació del Nord. The members of staff found here provide free information in several languages, as well, of course, as promoting the commercial services available. "When I went to tourist information they were really useful", said a young woman from England, "an excellent service- very quick, very helpful". The popularity of the cabins is unquestionable when one considers that last year alone 1.6 million enquiries were made at them. This curiosity is hardly surprising given that Barcelona has so many attractions to offer. Out of all of the tourist attractions the Sagrada Família is the most popular with 2.317.349 tourists in 2010 followed by the CosmoCaixa and the Aquarium. However, it is the character of the city, and not one specific tourist site that makes it appealing to so many. In a recent survey carried out by the department for tourism, almost everything from the architecture to the nature of the local people scored approximately 8 out of 10, with the lowest published factors, the noise and security of the city still scoring a respectable 6.9 out of 10. Indeed many tourists that we spoke to admitted that wandering the streets was one of their favourite things to do. A couple from Australia said: "we have used the metro and we have walked around". Another man from Holland commented: "I haven\u2019t used the taxi's or anything like that I have just gone everywhere by foot, you see the most I think". Although undeniably the increase in human traffic has caused irritation amongst a segment of the local population, the reality is that in times of economic hardships the revenue generated from the tourism industry is a godsend to the city and the entire region. Credit card spending alone was over 1.6 billion euros last year, with French tourists spending the most out of any nationality. Despite the recent criticism, the encouraging news for the tourism sector in Barcelona is the number of visitors who choose to return to the city time and time again. In an age of cheap travel and increasingly accessible destinations, it is a wonder that 43% of tourists found here are visiting for the third time or more. For them and many more to come, Barcelona will be the city break of choice well into the future.

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  • A tourist bus in Barcelona (by CNA)

  • Tourists in Barcelona (by CNA)

  • A tourist cabin in Plaça Catalunya (by CNA)

  • A tourist bus in Barcelona (by CNA)
  • Tourists in Barcelona (by CNA)
  • A tourist cabin in Plaça Catalunya (by CNA)