Statistics confirm tourism back to full strength in Barcelona

Catalan capital leads hotel occupancy in Spain in May

2 min
Group of tourists in the center of Barcelona.

BarcelonaThat tourism has returned to Barcelona after the pandemic is evident; you only have to go out on the street to see it. But now data from the Spanish Institute of Statistics (INE) confirms it. The Catalan capital's hotel occupancy rate in May was the highest in Spain. Despite the great recovery, however, most indicators are still slightly below May 2019, the year before the arrival of covid-19.

According to data from the statistics institute, hotel occupancy in Barcelona in May was 72.4% (and 79.4% at weekends), well above May 2021 (28%), but only slightly above May 2019, when it reached 74.9%. The number of hotels open in May this year was still lower than before the pandemic, but not so the number of beds on offer. There were 635 establishments open in May 2022, twice as many as a year earlier, but 51 fewer than in May 2019. However, supply reached 82,843 beds in May this year, double the number a year earlier and 202 more than in May 2019.

The recovery of the hotel sector in the city is also noticeable in terms of employment. While in May 2021 there were 4,362 people working in the sector in Barcelona, in May this year there were already 12,793. In other words, occupancy has multiplied by three, despite the fact that it is still below the 15,185 employees the sector had in May 2019.

Foreign tourism has regained full strength. According to INE data, in May Barcelona received 135,050 Spanish tourists, but the great bulk were foreigners: 604,696 visitors from abroad. These figures are very similar to 2019's, albeit slightly lower.

Prices rise

The recovery in occupancy and overnight stays also has an effect on hotel prices. According to the INE, Catalonia ranks as the second region with the second highest average hotel rate (€110) only behind Madrid (€114.45). The average hotel rate in Catalonia has increased by 43% compared to a year ago, an increase only surpassed by Madrid (66.9%) and the Basque Country (51.7%).

In terms of hotel profitability, RevPar or revenue per available room, Catalonia ranks second among Spanish regions, at €73.20, only behind Madrid (€83.25). This indicator, however, shows a clear recovery: the year-on-year increase in Catalonia was 193% (131% in Spain as a whole).

Catalonia, third destination

According to INE data, in May Catalonia received 1.85 million travellers and tripled the 2021 data, when the number of tourists was just over half a million (555,768). This is a strong comeback, despite the fact that the total number of visitors is still 7.2% below May 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic. The growth is driven by the arrival of visitors from abroad, which multiplied by six in year-on-year terms. Specifically, Catalonia went from receiving 180,053 international tourists in May 2021 to welcoming over 1.16 million in the same month this year. Despite the 542% increase, foreign tourism is still below the highs of 2019 (1.36 million). As for residents in Spain, arrivals have doubled, to 695,200 travellers.

Catalonia was the third main destination in the state, only surpassed by the Balearic Islands and Andalusia. In May, Catalonia accounted for 4.9 million hotel overnight stays, 16.4% of the national total, and overtook destinations such as the Canary Islands, Valencia and Madrid. However, Catalonia had an occupancy rate of 54.2%, lower than the Spanish average (54.9%).