24 May, 2024 @ 11:30
1 min read

Council in Spain’s Barcelona wants to crack down on cruise ships after 3.6 million passengers disembarked there in 2023


THE local council in Spain’s Barcelona is seeking to reduce the number of cruise ships that dock in the city, after a total of 3,568,000 passengers disembarked there during 2023. 

The visitors arrived on a total of 803 cruise ships, breaking previous records for such tourist activity, and representing a rise of 13.7% compared to 2019, the last year before the coronavirus pandemic caused major disruption to the sector.

According to a report in Spanish daily El Pais, the pressure on the city caused by these tourists is such that the Socialist mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, is going to negotiate a reduction in the number of cruise ships arriving with the city’s port authority. 

“We want to propose a new agreement with the Port not just to discuss the number of terminals, but mainly to debate the number of passengers,” said the council’s deputy mayor and economy and tourism chief, Jordi Valls. 

Read more: Spain’s Malaga port forecasts 200,000 cruise passengers

Barcelona moves cruise liner docking away from main port to cut down on city centre pollution
The area in Barcelona’s port where cruise ships dock.

“For the number of visitors to grow 9% every year is not manageable for the city,” he added. 

Back in 2018, the former mayor of the city, Ada Colau, signed an agreement with the Port that established seven terminals where cruises would dock, and scrapped the areas for smaller craft. There were no limits, however, placed on the numbers of tourists arriving. 

Of the nearly 3.6 million cruise passengers who arrived in 2023, just 1,662,000 spent the night in the city, according to El Pais. This means that they did not spend any or little money in hotels or restaurants, nor will they have used the airport. 

The visitor figures for this year, 2024, are expected to be even higher.

Barcelona is one of the tourism hotspots that, in recent years, has seen a wave of protest against the business model for the sector. 

Representatives from the local council are planning to discuss ‘everything’ with the Port de Barcelona, including whether the number of cruise ship terminals should be reduced. 

“Let no one be fooled, this is not questioning tourism,” said Valls, in comments reported by El Pais. “It’s a discussion about economic diversification. Besides, we are not the only city that is doing this. Amsterdam, Venice and Palma de Mallorca have already implemented control measures.” 

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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