Post-pandemic Barcelona scores higher in international rankings and is more expensive to live in

The city prepares to renounce to Russian tourism as an immediate consequence of the war conflict

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Skyline of Barcelona.

A series of rankings to demonstrate the strength of the city of Barcelona internationally. The City Council and the Chamber of Commerce have presented this Thursday the Barcelona Observatory of 2021, a compilation of 34 indicators for the years 2020 and 2021 that in general terms show the city's good situation, which returns, for example, to the top 20 of the world's most competitive cities, according to the Mori Memorial Foundation's Global Power City Index 2021. Barcelona has climbed to 18th place after five years outside the top 20. And it also comes out well placed if you look at the expectations of visitors and entrepreneurs: it ranks ninth on the global table, according to the report by Resonance Consultancy. And seventh place in attracting technological investment in Europe ($1.5bn), in a ranking that is clearly dominated by London ($18.4bn) and in which Madrid is three places behind the Catalan capital. "The city is coming out of the pandemic strong," concluded deputy mayor Jaume Collboni, who presented Barcelona as "the best" city in which to invest in southern Europe and highlighted projects such as the new 22@ to attract more technological investment.

The flipside is the increase in the cost of living in Barcelona and in many other cities in the context of the pandemic: Barcelona is already the 84th most expensive city in the world, while last year it ranked 102nd on this same table. If we look only at the euro zone, Barcelona drops two places to 17th. Therefore, the City Council considers that this factor does not affect the competitiveness of the city, which also improves in aspects such as security. The Safe Cities Index of 2021 chose Barcelona as the eleventh safest city to live in general terms, including health, infrastructure and personal safety.

What Barcelona does foresee is the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For a start, it will lose Russian tourism for an as yet undetermined period due to the closure of European airspace. "It is a modest tourism in numbers, but it usually has high purchasing power", Collboni remarked, who assured that the effect in Catalonia will be "more modest" than in northern European countries with greater energy dependence on Russia.

Russian tourism represents 4% in Catalonia as a whole and most of them pass through Barcelona, spending 36% more than the average tourist, according to the Chamber of Commerce. Its president, Mònica Roca, added that exports to Ukraine and Russia are around 1%, and imports between 0.4% and 0.6%, and has ventured that the most noticeable impact may be on the import of cereals if the conflict drags on. The City Council has already announced this morning that it is suspending institutional relations with the consulate of the Russian Federation in the city until the military offensive ceases. The letter, signed by the deputy mayor Laia Bonet, includes the text agreed by all the political groups during the Council's last plenary session to condemn the Russian attack and specifies that the Council will not participate in events convened by the consulate or invite Russian diplomatic representatives to its events and meetings.