You’d think thousands of travelers disembarking from cruise ships in Barcelona would be a good thing for the city. However, these tourists coming in from the many yearly cruise liners don’t book accommodation, don’t spend as much as you’d think, and contribute to city congestion. The huge ships also contribute to pollution.
Now the capital of Catalonia is introducing measures to limit the number of cruise ships that dock in the city.
Less is more
Before the Pandemic, Barcelona was Europe’s busiest cruise ship terminal. Those days would see Barcelona’s streets suddenly crowded with thousands and thousands of tourists with little benefit. Businesses in the city’s center would benefit but not enough to compensate for the overcrowding and congestion.
“There are thousands of people who arrive at once,” Mayor Ada Colau told the newspaper, El Pais. “Most of them stay for just a few hours and are highly concentrated in the downtown area. They generate a feeling of collapse.”
With post-Pandemic travel restarting, over 125 cruise ships docked in May alone, and the city is rethinking returning to the way things were. The regional government discussed a tax and a plan to ensure that tourists and travel companies pay more, but this would do nothing about congestion and pollution. These cruise ships emit massive amounts of sulfur oxide and nitrogen in the port, and Mayor Colau is instead pushing for a limit on cruise ships.
This might sound counterintuitive, and there is already controversy about the plan, but officials seem to think that this would be to the city’s benefit. The small economic benefit simply isn’t worth the strain it puts on the city and the ecosystem.
“We cannot go back to the 3.1 million cruise passengers,” Deputy Mayor Janet Sanz told Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia. “They are visitors who do not add value to the city. With the pandemic, the perception of public space has changed and we cannot return to previous scenarios. The impact is too great for residents.”