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2024 to be a pivotal year for Catalonia

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Man admiring the architectural wonder of the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Art of Catalonia)
Spain received 37.5 million international tourists in the first half of the year | Photo: Kristijan Arsov

With 2023 swiftly drawing to a close, the Catalonia – Catalan Tourist Board has already set its sights on 2024, a pivotal year for Catalonia. In particular, the 37th edition of the America’s Cup will be hosted in Barcelona from August 24th to October 20th. This prestigious regatta ranks as the world’s most significant, and it stands as the third-largest sporting event in terms of economic impact on the host country, following only the Olympic Games and the World Cup. The forthcoming edition will also mark the debut of the Women’s America’s Cup and a Youth America’s Cup. Spectators will have the unique opportunity to witness the competition free of charge at the Port of Barcelona.

But before the new year starts, the Catalan Tourist Board plans to continue actively engaged in promoting high-quality tourism experiences, including attendance to the World Travel Market 2023, the most important in the travel calendar,  taking place at ExCeL London from November 6-November 8.

Back for another year at the global event, the Catalan Tourist Board stand will feature a diverse selection of exhibitors representing both the public and private sectors. Among the public sector participants are the Barcelona Tourism, Costa Brava Tourist Board, Costa Dourada Tourist Board, Lleida Tourist Board, and Salou Tourist Board. On the private sector side, the stand will welcome companies such as AQUA Hotel Group, Família Torres, Alexandre Congress Hotel, Hotel Termes Montbrió, Itravex, MedPlaya Hotels, Perlatours, Pola Giverola Resort, PortAventura World, Sagalés Coach Hire Services, Viajes Olympia, and Vueling, amongst others.

Catalonia is already celebrating another milestone: the region, in northeastern Spain, has been awarded as World Region of Gastronomy for 2025, recognising its rich cultural heritage intertwined with gastronomy, wine, and cava.

In the first half of 2023, Spain received 37.5 million international tourists, a 24% increase from the same period last year. The northeastern region of Catalonia, including Barcelona and the Costa Brava, was the most visited area.

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Travel

Gatwick airport opens new £250m train station

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An image of the first passengers using the new Gatwick train station
Gatwick Airport was officially opened on 9 June 1958 by Queen Elizabeth II.

A new look Gatwick Airport station has opened promising to offer passengers travelling between Brighton and London faster and more reliable journeys.

A bigger £250m rail station with a new second concourse and airport entrance is now available, doubling the space for the millions of passengers that use the station each year.

The first passengers to use the new concourse and airport entrance arrived on the 05.48 Thameslink Bedford to Brighton service on platform 7.

Eight new escalators and five new lifts will provide a step change for accessibility at the airport’s South Terminal. The new lifts and escalators, along with four new stairways and widened platforms, will help passengers move between the train station and the airport more quickly and easily.

Easier journeys between train and plane will benefit passengers across the wider network, helping keep trains running on time by removing the congestion on platforms that delay trains.

“This project is not just for those making their way to the airport, the work benefits passengers right across the route by giving them quicker journeys and a more reliable timetable”, says Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail Sussex route director.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said“With millions of people travelling into Gatwick Airport by train each year, this station is a major public transport hub and has been upgraded thanks to Government funding, improving the train-to-plane journey and delivering more reliable services for passengers.

“Today’s opening demonstrates this Government’s commitment to funding improvements to our rail network, transforming a vital station into an impressive gateway to the UK and helping more British and international passengers to travel by train.”

The new concourse will now act as the new entrance for people accessing the airport terminal, while the existing concourse will be for people exiting. The existing station concourse, station footbridges and the South Terminal linkspan have been refurbished and reconfigured to provide a seamless one-way system to the airport from the train station.

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Travelers are spending more on ‘affordable luxury’, study says

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A panel of professionals during the presentation of the WTM 2023 Global Report in London
The exclusive WTM Global Travel Report was compiled in association with researchers at Oxford Economics

A new research from World Travel Market London 2023, has revealed that “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular – despite the squeeze on many holidaymakers’ budgets.

The exclusive WTM Global Travel Report – compiled in association with researchers at Oxford Economics – has revealed that consumers generally remain determined to go on holiday and plenty are still prioritising upmarket options.

The report, unveiled on 6 November during the travel and tourism event taking place in London, says “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular “amid promising sentiment overall”.

It explains that this growth area in travel aligns with a broader trend for consumers to seek out new and unique experiences on holiday.

“After the pandemic and restrictions on travel, many have wanted to upgrade their experience…as consumers proactively catch up on missed tourism experiences,” says the report.

The report notes: “Consumers unaffected by economic downturns are likely to continue opting for luxury destinations.

The report cites United States consumer data from MMGY which suggests that the cost of living is having more of an effect on households with annual incomes under $50,000.

However, those earning more indicated a “high likelihood” of future travel.

Nonetheless, the report warns that some of the post-pandemic drivers of travel demand may have “gone into reverse in recent months”, posing a risk to continued expansion.

It points to persistently high costs and the recovery of sterling and the euro, which is making the purchasing power of the US dollar weaker in Europe.

The price of jet fuel is significantly higher than at the start of the year, putting pressure on air fares.

Consumers’ personal disposable income is also under pressure as their own transport and other living costs rise.

Despite these headwinds, the report notes: “Higher costs have not yet been a significant deterrent to growth and travellers appear willing to pay higher prices.”

“We are witnessing a remarkable resilience as people are still prioritising travel and many are seeking ‘affordable luxury’, such as higher rated accommodation or premium economy and business cabins instead of economy”, says Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director at WTM London.

Meanwhile, the travel industry continues to face supply side problems, amid geopolitical events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and staff shortages still affect many markets because large numbers of workers switched to other sectors during the pandemic. 

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London is the most searched-for destination for flights in 2023

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A shot of London featuring the Big Ben
Last minute: 44% of all bookings globally in 2023 were made within two weeks or less of departure | Source: eDreams Year in Travel report

Travel subscription platform eDreams, one of Europe’s largest e-commerce businesses, launched its ‘Year in Travel’ report today. The study, which analyses searches and booking data from its customers in all key European markets and the USA, reveals the evolution of travel, including top destinations, booking habits and growth destinations.

London came third as the most popular booked destination globally, behind Paris in 1st  place and Barcelona in 2nd. However, the British capital pipped Paris to the post as the most popular destination for flight searches from all markets globally during 2023 – followed by Paris, New York City, Bangkok and Barcelona.

London was the 2nd most popular booked destination for Germans, the 3rd most popular booked destination for Portuguese and 6th on the list for departures from Spain. For in-coming arrival by air to the UK during 2023, the largest percentage were from Spain (19%), followed by Germany (12%) and Italy (11%). French arrivals made up 10%.  

British travellers instead had their sights on Dublin as the most popular booked destination and all top destinations were short-haul, reflecting  the overall picture of the distance Brits travelled during 2023: 76% continental, 15% intercontinental and 9% domestic.  

“Our research shows that travel continues to be a very important part of people’s lives. When we look at the global travel map for 2023, traditional hotspots like Paris, Barcelona and London remain firm favourites. But, we have also seen long-haul destinations like Bangkok, Las Vegas, and New York grow in popularity this year. That’s really exciting as it shows how travellers are embracing the plethora of choice, information and inspiration available to them thanks to new technologies like AI and increasingly influential social media platforms like Tik Tok”, says Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO.

As 2024 is packed with major international sporting events – including the Olympics, the Paralympics, Grand Prix, the Euros and the T20 cricket,  eDreams’ data shows where interest is already heating up. Global searches for travel to Paris during the Olympics in 2024 vs the same dates in 2023 are up by +41%. 2024 will be the 20th anniversary of Bahrain’s Grand Prix and global travel searches for the weekend of 2 March are up +183% compared to last year. 

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