Saturday, April 13, 2013

Barcelona loves, loves, loves tourists - especially when times are hard!

Barcelona's El Periodico newspaper is reporting that in a recent survey of the city's residents, positive views of tourism are sky high, with  97% of locals seeing tourism as beneficial, 96% believing it brings in a great deal of money and 60% selecting it as the industry that most enriches the city.

This overwhelmingly positive view is more than understandable as the city continues to suffer from recession. Barcelona's position among international travelers has allowed the tourism sector to withstand the effects of Spain's economic crisis. In 2012 the city ranked fourth among European destinations in length of hotel stays, just behind London, Paris and Rome.

With tourism increasing 0.7% last year (7.44 million visitors in total), local people are apparently grateful that the sector's numbers continue to grow, even in these hard times. According to the newspaper, five years ago the view of tourism among Barcelonans was 16 points lower.

In an editorial, the paper concluded, "Barcelonans have rewarded the effort to shape tourism that is  balanced between their needs and those of the foreigners who visit and stay overnight in the Catalan capital. So finds a study published by the City Council which showed that among city residents there has been an increase in the view that tourism has a positive impact on their lives. Thus, the study discounts  those old local negative perceptions of the steadily increasing presence of tourists."

The city councilor responsible for tourism, Sonia Recasens, told El Periodico that the actual reason the perception of tourism has improved is due to the city government's efforts to soften the impact of such  large numbers of visitors on the city's citizens. She cited as examples the rearranging of parking spaces for the large numbers of tour buses around La Sagrada Familia and making the city center safer.

Meanwhile, President of Tourism Barcelona, ​​Joan Gaspart, simply said that tourism is a valuable asset to the city. He projected that the local government will benefit from a 34% take of the estimated 50 to 60 million euros that will be collected next year from the Catalan Region's tourist tax of up to 2.50€ per person per night, which started being added to hotel bills last November. He said that, among other things, this money will be used to better promote the city as a tourist destination.

Related post: Where do most tourists in Barcelona come from?

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