Barcelona is trying to cut its cruise ship visitor numbers in half

Not many cities believe they’re getting too many tourists…except for the Catalonian capital.

Barcelona had already started tackling the problems placed on the city from the likes of AIRBNB, in restricting availability for housing to the locals. Other cities, like Amsterdam are also tackling this accommodation issue.

Now, following the lead of Venice, they are taking on the impact of over cruise tourism. It is possibly time to put this stunning city back on the ‘must visit’ list.

As part of the hugely popular Western Mediterranean loop, Barcelona is one of the world’s busiest and most visited ports by international cruise ships, both as the start/end point and as a mid-cruise stop.

Apparently, it’s too popular, with Barcelona City Council Deputy Mayor, Janet Sanz, writing to the Spanish government requesting “urgent action” to “tackle the massive increase in cruise tourists”.

The local politician wants to halve the number of cruise ship tourists visiting the city from 400,000 down to 200,000 per month, of which the majority are British, American or French.

Sanz’s letter complains that tourists aren’t spending enough time admiring and appreciating Barcelona’s artistic treasures and neogothic architecture, preferring instead to go shopping at local malls.

Sanz’s reasoning in her letter is primarily aimed at cruise travellers who visit Barcelona just for the day as a mid-point port in their cruise itinerary, as opposed to those who embark or disembark in the city and subsequently spend money on hotels, transport, food and beverage and attractions.

“If they do not have Barcelona as their base port, then cruise passengers are not active consumers of our city,” said Ms Sanz in her letter.

“They just walk for four hours and then they leave.”

While it may seem an absurd suggestion, it’s working, with authorities finalising new measures to limit the number of cruise ships which arrive at its port each month.

Another of Sanz’s complaints arises from the suggestion cruise ships are taking too much of the city’s water supply in the wake of water restrictions imposed on residents and farmers.

However, the Port of Barcelona refuted this by saying most cruise ships have onboard desalination plants, meaning they don’t need to draw on local water supplies during their visit. EDITORS NOTE: On board desalination plants require onboard power/fuel supplies to operate. Ships may choose the ‘cheaper’ option of topping up with the local water supply.

By Tjeerd Royaards
12 April 2023
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