An announcement by the European Commission recommending that EU member states allow vaccinated visitors from the United States to enter Europe has created a shock wave in Barcelona’s tourism sector. Before the pandemic, the Catalan capital received more American travelers than any other country, only overtaken by domestic tourists. They also spend the most money on their stays. Turismo de Barcelona, the city’s tourism board, has announced new plans to promote the city in the United States at a time when a number of European destinations are also announcing their reopening and competing with each other.
Barcelona Tourism Observatory reports are clear: 16.9% of all tourists who visited the city and stayed in a hotel in 2019 (the last full year before the pandemic was declared) were from other places. regions of Spain – a total of 1,612,487 visitors. In second place, with 11.6%, were the Americans (1,103,996), followed by the United Kingdom with 8% (763,627). In terms of number of nights spent in hotels, Americans lead the way, with 2,393,284 nights in 2019 (12% of the total).
We believe that it will not only be Americans who will be able to travel, but rather all citizens of third countries who are vaccinated.
Marian Muro, General Manager of Turismo de Barcelona
These figures, along with the EC’s announcement, have activated a series of mechanisms to bring these visitors back and try to curb the crisis in the tourism industry. “This is great news for the sector and for the economy in general,” Marian Muro, Managing Director of Turismo de Barcelona, told EL PAÍS this week. “We believe that it will not only be Americans who will be able to travel, but rather all those third country citizens who are vaccinated.”
Last week, Muro led the first “post-covid in-person promotion mission” to Moscow and St. Petersburg in search of high-purchasing Russians who want to vacation in Barcelona. At the beginning of April, the Barcelona tourism director was very clear: “It’s a race. After a year of pandemic, all [destinations] will now look for visitors. “
The plan was to try to attract French, English and American visitors. But the EC’s announcement caused a change of course. “We have to go out and promote to regain confidence and visibility,” said Muro.
In 2019, 19 routes operated by different airlines operated from Barcelona El Prat airport between the Catalan capital and the United States. After months of closed traffic, on March 28, only one road to Miami reopened. The industry hopes this will be the first such step among many.
“No, we know the deadlines,” says Muro. “First the approval, as soon as possible, of the green passport”, with reference to the EU document which will prove that a person has been vaccinated. “It should be ready by early June at the latest. At the same time, there should be agreements of the European Commission with third countries so that vaccinated tourists can come. In September we have face-to-face meetings in the United States like the IGLTA [International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association] LGBTQ + tourism summit in Atlanta and some promotional events in California, ”explained the director of tourism, expressing hope that her board of directors will be able to promote Barcelona to American tourists.
English version by Simon hunter.