Answer: the United States of America. In fact, the year 2012 consolidated the U.S.A. as a major client of Barcelona's tourist industry. Last year American tourists totaled 635,000, or 8.5% of all travelers.
The large number of U.S. travelers has been attributed to the rise in the number of cruise ships docking in the city, with many Americans choosing to embark here, as well as more direct flights and promotional campaigns.
After the Americans came the British, the group that had the most significant growth (a 12% increase), while at third, fourth and fifth were the French, Italian and German. There was a dramatic increases from residents of Eastern European countries (Czech Republic, Russia and Poland), which jumped nearly 32% in one year, while visits from the rest of the world grew by a healthy 17.6%.
That last number resulted from visitors who came from many developing countries. Looking beyond the quantity of travelers to the qualitative effect of this group, credit card spending by Russians grew by a dramatic 55.7% last year, for a total of 146.7 million euros. Among Chinese tourists this spending leaped by 71.4%.
When it comes to Americans, there is the added bonus that this market is reportedly one of the most profitable for the city, in terms of the average amount of money they spend daily.
In 2012 the tourism sector rose 0.7% overall, with 7.44 million people visiting Barcelona, of which the majority were international visitors and 21.8% were from other parts of Spain. Visits by Spaniards decreased last year by 6.8%.
Barcelona's position among international travelers has allowed the tourism industry to withstand the effects of Spain's economic crisis. In 2012 the city ranked fourth among European destinations in length of hotel stays, after London, Paris and Rome respectively.
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