Spending by foreign tourists visiting Catalonia topped €21 billion for the first time in 2019, a 4.3% increase over the previous year. Average daily expenditure per person also increased by 5.3% over 2018, to €195. The amount each visitor spends per day has gone up 20% over the last three years. In terms of markets, spending by tourists from the United States increased significantly. For the first time, visitors from the US spent more – €2.5 billion (up 8% from 2018) – than those from any other country. Spending by visitors from all four of the main source markets for Catalonia (France, the UK, the US and Germany) was up, but the most significant growth was in expenditure by tourists from other European countries, who spent over €350 million more in 2019 than in 2018 (an increase of 26%).
The Minister of Business and Knowledge, Àngels Chacón, presented these figures at a press conference held to report statistical data on tourism in 2019. According to the minister – who was accompanied by the Director-General for Tourism, Octavi Bono, and the director of the Catalan Tourism Agency, David Font – a record 19.3 million tourists visited Catalonia in 2019. This total represents an increase of 150,000 (0.8%) over 2018. “Once again, the data for the tourism sector were very positive. The record figures for 2019 demonstrate that Catalonia is a leading destination and a benchmark in tourism. We need to take advantage of this and ensure that society as a whole benefits.”
The minister said the results are evidence that Catalonia is on the right track in terms of its tourism strategy: “The fact that revenue has grown more than the number of tourists shows that we’re building a more sustainable and competitive tourism model, in line with the goal set in the 2018–22 Strategic Plan for Tourism and the Catalonia Tourism Marketing Plan.”
Catalonia’s tourism model
In the course of the press conference, Chacón, said: “We want to position Catalonia as one of the best tourist destinations in the world by pursuing a strategy that focuses on diversification, deseasonalisation, decentralisation and higher spending.”
According to the minister, “the goal is to generate wealth and ensure that it’s spread throughout Catalonia in a way that contributes to territorial balance”.
Chacón said the government is working to achieve a model that integrates a significant part of the economic structure of Catalonia, generates opportunities, and fosters governance systems that emphasise participation. “Our goal is to increase tourism spending by more than growth in the number of tourists visiting us,” said the minister.