Published On: Mon, Mar 25th, 2024
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Barcelona in Spain says ‘we’ve had enough’ as 3.5m cruise ship passengers pour in | World | News

A beautiful European city has said “enough” to tourists as cruise passengers passing through reach record numbers.

Barcelona Cruise Port in Spain is the busiest in Europe and the worst for air pollution in a study carried out by the Transport & Environment NGO group in 2022.

The city decided last October to limit the number of ships that could dock, instead forcing them to stop at a pier 30 minutes south of the capital.

The mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, said the Catalan capital cannot absorb more cruise passengers after the record 3.5 million in 2023. 

He told Spanish newspaper Ara: “The tourist load that the city has at the moment cannot go up; our policy wants to promote Barcelona as a cruise base, not as a stopover, which is what brings the least value to the city. We are interested in quality tourism.”

More than 40 percent of cruise ships only stop in Barcelona for four hours, with the thousands of passengers who briefly disembark clogging up the city and not giving it much economic return.

Venice, Palma and Marseille have also spoken out against cruise ships anchoring with some limiting them and others banning them altogether. Amsterdam, Santorini and Dubrovnik have also tightened restrictions on cruise companies in recent years.

Collboni added that the city council is trying to “significantly reduce” the number of tourist flats, even aiming for zero in some areas such as Ciutat Vella.

He said: “All the cities with tourism in the world have learned some lessons about the predation of some platforms that manage tourist housing, especially in the historic centers.

“In Catalonia we have the advantage that we have legislation that gives powers to councils to regulate it. This must be done with common sense, with legal certainty and progressively.”

Despite wanting to control tourism, the mayor is also in favour of expanding the city’s airport. He said the two ideas “fit perfectly”.

Collboni said: “The expansion of the airport has to do with the transcontinental connectivity of our airport. 

“When we say that we want to generate, retain and attract the best talent in the world because behind the talent there are investments, this has to do with being well connected.”

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