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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 is one of Europe's busiest sea ports.

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.

The city wants to halve the number of cruise tourists that visit the city each month.

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.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 11 April 2023

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