The Future of tours in Barcelona
The Future of Tours in Barcelona
As the world faced the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, the tourism and hospitality industry was one of the most globally affected industries that began its notable crisis, starting from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship docked off Yokohama, Japan and forward. Media reported (2666 passengers, 1045 crew; total 3711) that resulted in 712 infected persons on the ship, or about 20% of the ship's population. After this shocking news, confirming the gravity of the situation, many travelers considered cancelling their upcoming trips as well as returning back home due the uncertainty of the situation. Barcelona, relying on 9-10 million tourists per year (9.13 million registered tourists in 2018) faced a big challenge. Like many big cities, tourism was not a priority in such times when the cases were on the rise and each city had to deal with their own residents in order to ensure their safety. Moreover, preventive measures were being taken in order to cause as little health, economic, and social damage as possible. Nevertheless, as most of us were on lockdown and giving mother nature some rest from global contamination, the tourism industry was faced with two choices:
1- Patiently wait until this global pandemic is well under control, in order to resume touristic activities.
2- Innovate with new ideas for the survival and adaptation of tourism.
Evidently, it is easier said than done. How can one resume traveling or consider doing so when there is a health risk involved to yourself and others? At The Barcelonian we have considered on applying both options 1 & 2. During the lockdown period, our team got very enthusiastic about giving a chance to show Barcelona to a much wider public, considering the “visit Barcelona from home” approach. Whether in a global pandemic situation or not, this experience would give a different adventure to individuals who didn’t yet get the chance to see our beautiful city, cannot afford to travel at the moment, or simply fell in love with Barcelona on their previous visit and would like to get another glimpse of their nostalgic moments. Partnering up with Globetrotter VR we started the planning process of Virtual Reality tours in Barcelona for one of our best-selling tours – The Secrets of Barcelona. Converting the actual tour to its virtual reality version was quite a challenge, however after many attempts and new discoveries in the virtual world, we are almost ready to share our work. We will be talking more about this exciting news in the coming weeks, once the VR tour is launched and ready to explore! Don’t forget to check out our VR 360º tours in Barcelona for the latest updates.
And while choice number 1 seems to suggest less work and can be perceived as more of a long-term approach, it also helped our company determine the future of Barcelona tours. At The Barcelonian, we have always strived for sustainable tourism that would keep its visitors, residents, and nature in harmony with one another. Having almost 10 million visitors per year didn’t particularly make us happy for its quantity, rather than its quality. While many other tour operators were heavily invested in their exponential growth due to mass tourism, (particularly in Barcelona day tours) our sales team was especially careful not to be lured into accepting proposals that would go against our company ethics. Our reduced numbered groups policy from day 1, maintained a qualitative result that satisfied our clients (travel agents as well as visitors themselves) throughout the year. Our tour groups never exceed 12 persons under normal circumstances. While we kept this promise, we were also struggling with competitive prices from other Barcelona guided tour operators where 1 guide had to navigate with up to 40 visitors at a time, against one of our Barcelona city tours that would have the same price but a maximum of 10 persons. Without discriminating our own guides from other companies’ (independent of the group size), our customer satisfaction reports in 2019 have confirmed that all visitors through our tour operating agency demonstrated their appreciation for having a personal interaction with their tour guide – resulting in an unforgettable quality experience. The importance of reducing visitors in highly concentrated areas is not only important in times of a pandemic outbreak, but also vital for one’s own personal space, environmental contamination, as well as a visitor’s experience as a whole. It is difficult to apply this approach especially at world renown landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia temple which was built by our beloved architect Antoni Gaudí. However, we do believe that proper scheduling for visits and personalized planning can have all individuals visit their places of interest, without disrupting nature or local residents’ daily routine.
As a result, and after careful consideration, our team has decided to switch all of our experiences to private tours. This decision will not change the content of our tours, but ensure maintaining its quality as well as give further certainty to visitors during and after the COVID-19 outbreak, that their visit in Barcelona will be remembered as a cherishable one. Our visitors may discover many options for family travel or traveling as a couple within the variety of categories that can be found in our Day Tours or Multi-Day Experiences sections. As long as the pandemic situation is still in place, our team will follow strict guidelines to ensure the safety of our visitors. If you would like to know more about our COVID-19 guidelines, please click The Barcelonian COVID-19 guidelines.
All of us at the travel industry are confident that we will overcome this situation that has affected travel agents, tour operators, as well as personal or corporate travelers. Whether we reconsider traveling now or in the future, let us give a thought to a better quality experience.
From our team to you, we are very much looking forward to receiving you in our beautiful city of Barcelona!
© The Barcelonian 2020