Accessible Tourism: City of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

December 9, 2015   World

European Network for Accessible Tourism | Source


Photo. Palau Nacional, Barcelona by "Palau Nacional Barcelona Pano 2013" by Felix König - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

Over the past 25 years Barcelona has steadily gained a reputation as one of the world’s most attractive and visited cities.

It has become the fourth most popular city destination in Europe by visitor numbers, having 7.5 million visitors in 2013.  and its number and variety of tourism offers has grown year-by-year to include sports and cultural events, heritage attractions, city-breaks, conferences, meetings and business tourism.

In more recent years, cruise tourism has shown strong growth in Europe and Barcelona has become the most favoured port for embarkation, disembarkation and port-of-call passengers with a total of 2.6 million passengers in 2013. Cruise tourism has a significant impact on European tourism both in terms of passenger numbers and economic turnover for cruise lines but also for shore destinations. Ports of call and the beginning and end points of the cruise can profit directly from tourists, as well as other services including, port infrastructure investments, shipbuilding and repairs and other related activities. The demographics of cruise passengers show a higher proportion of older persons who benefit from the comfort and ease of a ship-board holiday.

Barcelona has achieved a high level of provisions in terms of general accessibility of the built environment, accessibility information and itineraries for visitors, a well-designed and accessible public transport system and adapted services for visitors with access needs. This combination of factors contributes strongly to Barcelona’s position as a desirable, year-round  accessible tourism destination. Also, the Catalan region has a well-developed range of accessible, inclusive destinations with activities and venues for visitors, acting as a magnet for cruise ship tourists from Spain, Euro and overseas.

This case study explains the approach taken by the City of Barcelona, tourism operators and local businesses to become an attractive and welcoming cruise destination. The services for passengers who need good access are described and evaluated, in particular by an American, John Sage, who is a disabled wheelchair user and travel agent, specialising in European destinations.

Overall, the study shows the successful results of the city authorities’ plans and programmes and explains the benefits these actions have brought to the cruise industry, the visitors and suppliers.

Download the Barcelona Accessible Cruise Destination Case Study in PDF format, produced by ENAT and Partners for the European Commission (2015).