Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region in Spain and one of the most popular city destinations in Europe for international tourism. The number of overnight tourists in Barcelona reached over 9 million in 2016, not including those staying in non-hotel accommodation. This is also reflected in the relatively high occupancy rates of the city's hotels. Barcelona's influence on tourism in the region likely contributes to Catalonia being one of the most visited Spanish regions by international tourists.
International visitor expenditure in Barcelona has gradually risen in recent years, in line with the increasing volume of tourists arriving in the city. Passenger traffic at Barcelona airport has more than doubled since 2000, peaking at 44.1 million in 2016. The city is also affected by cruise tourism, with over 700 cruise ships arriving at the Port de Barcelona each year. Approximately 2.7 million cruise passengers boarded, disembarked or were in-transit at the port in 2016.
Although most visitors travel to Barcelona for leisure or vacation purposes, business travelers made up over a fifth of visitors in 2016. Young adults tend to be most interested in travel to Barcelona; 25 to 34 year olds were the main market demographic visiting in 2016, accounting for 36 percent of all tourists aged 15 or over.
Barcelona's appeal as a travel destination is evident: the Mediterranean climate and sandy beaches, set beside interesting cultural sites, architecture, restaurants and nightlife are no doubt appealing to visitors. The proximaty to other coastal resorts also makes Barcelona an ideal excursion for summer tourists in Spain. Perhaps the most familiar sight in the city is the Sagrada Familia; receiving 4.56 million visitors, the church was the most visited attraction in Barcelona in 2016.
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