Barcelona (ACN).- Catalonia has become the top European destination for Russian tourists. Traditionally Greece was the main destination for Russian citizens on holidays; however, the economic and political crisis the Hellenic country is going through has placed Catalonia on top of the list of Russian tourist priorities. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Francesc Xavier Mena, in charge of tourist policy, presented the data on Thursday in Barcelona. According to Mena, this trend could also be repeated among tourists from other countries, such as Germany, although he admitted there is no concluding data on this last point. However, data clearly shows that Catalonia tops Russian holiday rankings.
During the first four months of the year, foreign tourism generated a €2.7 billion income in Catalonia, which represents a 15% increased compared to the same period last year. According to Mena, the income growth is explained by the arrival of more tourists with a high purchasing power, such as some Russian tourists.
According to the last official data, between January and April 2012, 3.4 million foreign tourists visited Catalonia, which represents a 12.4% increase compared to 2011. In the first 4 months of the year, the average foreign tourist spent €128 per day, 16.1% more than the average spend per day that foreign tourists made in winter 2011. However, the large majority of tourists traditionally come around the summer season, between May and October. During 2011, foreign tourism generated an income of €11.3 billion, which was a 7.3% increase compared to 2010.
In fact, Mena emphasised that Catalonia’s tourist strategy for the coming years is to attract tourists with greater purchase power from new emerging markets, with a high consumption potential, such as Russia and China. Mena explained the efforts of the Catalan Government to increase international flight connections from Barcelona El Prat Airport, especially to America, the Middle-East, Eastern Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
The Greek case
According to Reuters, with data from the Greek Government, in 2011, Greece had a €10.5 billion income from foreign tourism, which represented a 10% increase compared to 2010, mainly due to the effects of the Arab Spring. However, this year they could lose 15% of their tourists.