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Barcelona: World Number One Destination for Tourism Students?

barcelona monument
Photo by Tyler Hendy
Tourism is one of the most fascinating areas of study for people interested in business. Not only is it one of the largest global industries, but it is multifaceted, complex, and always evolving.
As disposable incomes rise and airfares get lower, international tourism sees year-on-year growth. Worldwide, tourist arrivals rose to 1.3 billion in 2017 from 528 million in 2005 and are expected to increase to 1.8 billion by 2030.
Graduates with a love of travel, culture and business can specialise in any number of tourism-related areas and forge rewarding careers for themselves. Dip your toes and you’ll find hospitality, airlines, luxury goods, entrepreneurship, logistics, travel tech, insurance, even publishing guides and digital marketing – the list goes on.
ESEI is located in Barcelona, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. So let’s take a look at what makes the city so popular and why it’s a great place to start a career in the tourism industry.


Barcelona: the ideal place to study tourism

Barcelona hosted the Olympics in 1992 and with it came urban regeneration projects, public and private investment, and a sizeable boost to the local economy. This set things in motion and since then, Barcelona has seen continued growth in tourist numbers. In 1990, for example, 1.7 million people came for tourism purposes, by 2017 this number rose to 9 million.
It’s no surprise. As city breaks go Barcelona pretty much as it all; more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, a history dating back to the Phoenicians, a host of great culture and music events, a thriving foodie scene, luxury shopping, and international airport, mountains and a beach.
The city therefore brings a wide range of tourists, from high end, luxury-seeking tourists to backpackers on a budget, and has developed an infrastructure to match.


Barcelona is by no means isolated as a popular tourist destination in Spain, however. The country received 82 million international visitors in 2017 and is set to become the second most popular tourist destination in the world, behind France, in 2018.
This makes Spain – and Barcelona in particular – an exciting place to see and study the logistics and synergies of the industry in action.


The travel tech scene

Barcelona is at the forefront of the tech revolution in Spain and a top 5 European startup, according to Mobile World Capital – and the travel technology ecosystem plays a large part in this success.
Online travel platforms like eDreams are leading the charge. The publicly-traded company  operates as an online travel agency with deals on flights insurances, holiday packages and hotels. It was founded in 1999 and had 18 million customers, 486.6 million in revenues at the close of 2017. It is considered to be the number one travel agency in Europe.
Barcelona-based Atrápalo has also had a big impact on travel tech, having expanded to nine countries and with reported revenues of €330 million. The platform allows users to book hotels, flights, and other tickets online and is valued at around €40-50 million.
Travel Perk is dominating In the startup business-to-business space in Barcelona, offering a rewards-based business travel planning platform. Then there’s Mondo, another new travel tech startup from Barcelona, focused on the travel insurance industry. It provides users with tailored, travel insurance at the best price. The results are based on a series of questions and apparently unbiased, as Mondo is an independent platform.
There are dozens of other established and up-and-coming travel startups in Barcelona, making it a fantastic destination for students interested in the confluence of innovation, technology and travel.


Varied career opportunities

There is no doubt that Barcelona has a wealth of opportunities for young and ambitious professionals starting out in the tourism industry.
With a blossoming travel startup scene, more than 67,000 hotel beds, a booming restaurant and bar industry, and a focus on growth and innovation, there is plenty of scope for gaining work experience, developing professionally, and building an international professional network.
ESEI students can take the opportunity to participate in our internship programme and find out what it’s like to work in one of the busiest tourist cities in the world.

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