(2:10 p.m. GMT) -- The two main Spanish ports -- Barcelona and Palma -- have reached full capacity in terms of cruise passengers and are looking to attract smaller ships and higher-spending visitors.
Palma welcomed 2.2 million cruise passengers this year -- in a city of 414,000 -- and in an effort to alleviate overtourism the city wants to attract smaller cruise ships over a longer season.
Meanwhile Catalonia is working with smaller cruise lines to promote several smaller ports in the region, including Tarragona and Sant Carles de Rapita in the south and Rosas and Palamos in the north as an alternative to Barcelona.
At a round table event at World Travel Market to discuss responsible tourism yesterday, Antoni Noguera Ortega, Mayor of Palma, said:
“Ideally we have a mix of small, medium and large ships visiting Palma -- not just large ships that bring in thousands of tourists at a time.”
The city is also trialling a dedicated app for cruise passengers to help them avoid overcrowded tourist areas. Welcome Palma features a heat map highlighting how busy the city’s main tourist attractions are in real time.
It also has a chatbot to help cruise passengers navigate the city and offer real time suggestions based on which attractions are less crowded.
Ortega revealed the app had helped reduce overcrowding at the city’s main attractions by 11 percent during peak months of August and September.
Cruise passengers are alerted to the app when they disembark in Palma.
The director of the Catalan Tourist Board in London, Aicard Guinovart, said: “This is about offering cruise passengers who have visited Barcelona a different kind of activity.
“Tarragona, which is just 45 minutes south of Barcelona, has the greatest Roman ruins outside of Italy and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.”
Tarragona has capacity for ships of up to 2,500 passengers and currently is an alternative port of call to Barcelona for Costa.
It is just a 10-minute bus ride to Reus, which has a museum dedicated to Antoni Gaudi, who was born here.
Further south still is Sant Carles de Rapita, the gateway to the Ebro Delta and the rice fields, which can welcome up to 200-passenger ships.
In the north, Palamos is the biggest fishing village in Catalonia; while Rosas is the gateway to Figueras, the birthplace of Dali.