The proportion of tourists who go on excursions during their stay in Destination Barcelona increases in 2021

30/03/2022 - 12:45h

The OTB publishes the second capsule of the 2021 Barcelona Tourism Activity Report, which includes information on the tourist profile and expense

  • The Covid-19 effects continue causing substantial changes in the profile and the expense of tourists in Destination Barcelona.
  • The proportion of domestic tourists increases in Destination Barcelona. In Barcelona region, the Spanish tourists have outnumbered foreigners for the second consecutive year.
  • Most of the tourists have visited the Destination as a couple (45.9%) or alone (26.8%) and for leisure or vacation reasons (62.9%).
  • The plane has regained prominence as the most common means of transport to reach Destination Barcelona (44.2%), although it is still far from pre-pandemic values, to the detriment of the private vehicle (34.7%) and the train (15.7%), the proportion of which continues to double compared to 2019.
  • The average repeatability of tourists has doubled compared to 2019: in Barcelona city, tourists have been 10.0 times, while in Barcelona region, 23.5.
  • During their stay, tourists usually go on foot (53.1%) and taste gastronomy and go to restaurants (85.9%).
  • The tourist average expense has slightly recovered in terms of transport of arrival, accommodation cost and expense during the stay.


The Observatory of Tourism in Barcelona: city and region has released the second capsule of the 2021 Barcelona Tourism Activity Report, which provides data about the three geographical levels that the OTB covers Barcelona cityBarcelona region, and Destination Barcelona. This capsule contains two chapters with data on the profile and expense of tourists.

Tourism activity has continued to be marked by Covid-19 effects in 2021. The first months of the year were characterised by territorial lockdowns and severe restrictions on non-essential travel. With the lifting of the state of emergency in May and the entry into force of the Covid certificate in July, tourism began its reactivation. However, both the profile and the expense of tourists in Destination Barcelona in 2021 continued to experience significant changes compared to the pre-pandemic years.


Sociodemographic profile

6 out of 10 tourists were men and the average age has been 37.2 years. Most of tourists in Destination Barcelona had professional secondary education or university studies (74.4%), and were employed (62.1%).

With regard to their origin, it is worth noting the increase of domestic tourism compared to 2020 in Destination Barcelona (44.5% share and +1.9pp), due to the increase in Barcelona city's share of the Spanish market (33.0% and +3.1pp). As for international tourists, the French (+3.2pp), the Americans (+0.4pp) and the Germans (+0.5pp) also increased their share of Destination Barcelona as a whole,


Travel characteristics

62.9% visited Destination Barcelona for holidays and leisure reasons, 16.9% for professional reasons, and 20.2% for personal or other reasons. The first purpose was the only that grew during 2021 (+7.2pp), as opposed to the professional reasons (-3.9pp), and to the personal and other reasons (-3.3pp).

The plane continued to be the most used means of transport to get to Destination Barcelona (44.2%) in 2020, although far from pre-pandemic levels, when practically 7 out of 10 tourists arrived by air. On the other hand, despite their year-on-year drops, the use of private cars (34.7%) and trains (15.7%) doubled their share compared to 2018-2019. The most common method used to book both transport and accommodation was directly with the transport company or establishment (73.9% and 53.3%, respectively), mainly online.

The number of times that tourists have been at the destination decreased in 2021 in Barcelona city, where the average number of visits was 10.0 times, while in Barcelona region it increased to 23.5 times. Despite this, in both cases, the averages double those of the years before the pandemic.

Those who travel as a couple kept being the majority (45.9%), followed by those who travel alone (26.8%), which decreased by -6.8pp compared to 2020. On the other hand, the length of stay remained practically stable in all geographical areas of analysis: 5.1 nights in Barcelona city and 4.4 in Barcelona region.

During their stay, tourists tended to use non-polluting means of transport. Actually, “walking” was the most common way to go from one place to another (53.1%). The use of the car (27.0%) ranked the second in Barcelona region, while in Barcelona city, it has been the metro (26.8%).

The most popular activities in the destination were tasting the gastronomy / going to restaurants (85.9%), taking quiet strolls and relaxation (83.5%) and going to the beach (57.9%). All the activities show an increase compared to 2020, except for work/business, which lost -1.9pp.

Likewise, the number of excursions from the accommodation municipality increased slightly: almost 2 out of 10 tourists in Destination Barcelona went on an excursion. This proportion continued to be higher in Barcelona region (3 out of 10) than in Barcelona city (1 out of 10).


Tourist expense

The expense on the transport, the accommodation, as well as spending during the stay in Destination Barcelona, slightly increased in 2021 compared to the previous period, but remained below the pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, the cost of tourist packages decreased compared to the previous year.

Finally, the purchase of food and drink kept being the item in which most money was invested in Destination Barcelona (55.7% of the total expenditure during the stay per person per night), followed by clothes, shoes, souvenirs, and personal items shopping (16.9%). Those who have spent the most during their stay are the international tourists, who on average have spent €70.2 per person per night, €12.7 above the average.


More information: Report on Tourist Activity in Barcelona 2021 - Capsule 2


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