Catalonia region trying to entice more Brazilians to visit

Brazilian tourists can be bigger spenders than Europeans in Catalonia.
Brazilian tourists can be bigger spenders than Europeans in Catalonia.

Brazilian tourists can be bigger spenders than Europeans, according to data compiled by the Spanish region of Catalonia, which is trying to attract South American visitors partly by using the popularity of the Barcelona soccer team as a strategy.

“The Brazilian visitor is the third that spends the most in Catalonia after those from the U.S. and Canada," Joan Romero, South American director of the Catalonia tourism agency, recently told Latin Business Daily. "The average spending per Brazilian tourist is 194 euros, which compares with 77 euros per French visitor."

Most tourists from Brazil and Latin America travel to Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, during summer in the northern hemisphere, Romero added in a telephone conversation.

Once Brazilian tourists cover the approximately 5,500 miles from Brazil to Barcelona, they stay there for as many as nine days, Romero, who is based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said. 

“A total of 168,000 Brazilians visit us annually,” Romero said. 

Argentina is the second biggest origin of tourists with 65,800 arriving to Barcelona just in the first half of this year. Colombia had 23,800 tourist visit Barcelona during the same period. The figures are still small compared to 16 million international visitors to the region per year, Romero added.

Catalonia is about the size of Maryland and borders France, facing the Mediterranean.

Despite large demographics in Brazil, with a population of nearly 200 million, only about 6 million have the resources to be potential visitors to destinations such as Europe, Romero said. Other Latin countries share a similar situation.

Part of the work that Romero does involves trying to profit from the huge popularity of the Barcelona soccer team in the region. Barcelona is widely followed as some of its biggest stars, such as Argentine Lionel Messi, -- just named this month best player in Europe --  and Neymar Jr. from Brazil, are part of the team.

“Just in Brazil there are 25 million fans of the Barcelona team, who follow its games,” Romero said. “This is very favorable to us as we can think about carrying joint advertising campaigns with local media.”

For example, Romero said his agency is working on package deals that include watching Barcelona play at home.

“We are cooperating with airlines, tour operators, so that they can start selling soccer packages," Romero said. "We know soccer is ... a powerful tool [here].” 

There are other ties between Barcelona and South America that help promote Catalonia as a destination. For instance, Colombian singer Shakira is married to Gerard Pique of the Barcelona soccer team. She has more than 100 million followers just on Facebook and often shares pictures from Barcelona.

Of all the visitors to Barcelona, a destination that also showcases extensive architectural and artistic possibilities, surveys show that “the Brazilian client is the most satisfied,” Romero said.