The 20 most visited places of interest in Destination Barcelona recovered more than 5.5 million visitors in 2021

01/12/2022 - 16:00h

The OTB publishes the complete report of the tourism activity in Barcelona in 2021

  • Despite Covid-19 restrictive measures, Destination Barcelona attracted 200 meetings and nearly 100,000 delegates.
  • Barcelona was ranked 4th in the ranking of international overnight stays in European cities.
  • The 20 most visited places of interest in Destination Barcelona recovered 71.2% of visitors.
  • 1 out of 3 cruise passengers at Port of Barcelona was Italian.
  • The online reputation of the Barcelona region was 8.27 out of 10 according to the iRONⓇ index.


The Barcelona Tourism Observatory presents the full report on Tourism Activity in Barcelona 2021, a report that reflects the prolongation of the effects of the impact of Covid-19 on tourism activity, especially during the first half of the year. Increased traveller confidence, thanks to progress in vaccinations and the easing of entry restrictions in many destinations, led to a moderate recovery in international tourism in the second half of the year.

This report includes 4 new chapters to the previously released capsules: Meetings and fair activity, International positioning, Culture and leisure, and General information about Barcelona.

Other contents have been also updated with definitive data: Open accommodation supply, Tourism demand, Airport and Country of residence.

In addition, the availability of data has allowed the addition of two new items to the previous capsules published: Online reputation and Cruise passengers by nationality.


Meetings tourism

In 2021, meetings tourism continued to be affected by the different waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, which dictated the rate at which restrictions were lifted for professional meetings. For yet another year, the meetings tourism sector had to face the many changes that took place throughout the year.

Finally, and according to the available data, in 2021, some two hundred meetings (face-to-face and hybrid) were held in Destination Barcelona. Most of them were held from September onwards and attracted close to 100,000 delegates, more than twice as many as the previous year, although still six times lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Most corporate meetings (58%) that had an impact on Barcelona Destination were promoted by Spanish entities. This was the same proportion as in 2020.

At the Fira de Barcelona, 34 on-site events were organised, with 4,500 direct exhibitors. In total, more than 455,000 visitors were registered, of which almost 9 out of 10 came from Spain.


International positioning

Barcelona ranked 9th in the total overnight stays in European cities ranking, and 4th, in the international overnight stays in European cities ranking. Thus, despite improving in both rankings, the position in the first one was still lower than in 2019.

Destination Barcelona also recovered positions in the ranking of cruise passengers in the Mediterranean, where it achieved the 2nd position (in 2019 it had been in the first position), while in the ranking of passengers at Barcelona Airport, it was in the 11th position, 1 below 2020 and 5 below 2019. 

Barcelona’s strength and resilience were once more made evident by the ICCA 2021 rankings, in which it claimed 4th spot in meetings, and the 2nd in delegates. In this regard, we should remember that Barcelona is the only global destination to have been in the top 5 for the past 20 years in the first ranking. Besides, historically, it has also ranked in the first position in the second ranking, occupying the first position in several occasions.


Culture and leisure

Cultural, natural, and leisure facilities also continued to be affected by capacity and mobility restrictions during the first half of the year. However, visitors to monitored cultural and leisure facilities recovered partially in all the categories analysed: in museums, interpretation centres, and collections, nearly 70% year-on-year, in exhibition centres and leisure sites, 60%, in architectural places of interest, 35%, and in wine tourism sites, they tripled. Users of non-common transports also tripled.

Overall, the Top 20 Destination venues recovered more than 5.5 million visitors (+71.2%), which was less than half of those recorded in 2019.


Pasajeros de cruceros según nacionalidad

En el Puerto de Barcelona, los italianos fueron los pasajeros de cruceros más frecuentes (31%), mientras que en 2019, fueron los estadounidenses. Los alemanes (19%) y los españoles (15%) ocuparon la segunda y la tercera posición del ranking en 2021. It should be reminded that cruise activity resumed in June 2021, after a year and three months of interruption.

In Barcelona Port, the Italian were the most frequent cruise passengers (31%), while in 2019, the American. The German (19%) and the Spanish (15%) ranked the second and the third position in 2021.


Reputación online

According to the iRONⓇ index, Barcelona region's online reputation remained at around 8 in all the areas analysed (accommodation, restaurants, and tourist attractions) and achieved an average of 8.27 out of 10, an increase of 0.01 points compared to 2020 and 0.03 points compared to 2019.


More information: Report on Tourism Activity in Barcelona 2021


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