English Corner

The Swiss yacht Alinghi Red Bull Racing wants to fight for the title in Barcelona. Picture: HO

Barcelona – the ideal venue for the America's Cup

Mateu Hernández, Director of Barcelona Tourism, explains why New Zealand, the last winner from the America's Cup, chose Barcelona.

17 years after being held in Valencia, the most important sailing competition is going back to Spain. And to Barcelona. The 37th America's Cup begins on August 22 and ends on October 25, 2024.

But why in Barcelona, a city that already has an enormous appeal to tourists and often suffers from overtourism? Travelnews put this question to the Director of Barcelona Tourism, Mateu Hernández. Half an hour later, it is clear that being the venue for this major event does make sense from Barcelona's point of view.

"1.5 billion TV viewers around the world will be able to see Barcelona's waterfront and promenade, as well as the state-of-the-art technology and sustainability of these ships. These yachts skate over the water, it's incredible and very fascinating," enthuses Barcelona's tourism director six months before the start of the Americas' Cup.

The fact that Barcelona was chosen was not initially a request from Barcelona. As tradition would have it, the last winner of the America's Cup, the team from New Zealand, should habe presented the next venue; Saudi Arabia is also said to have been under discussion. However the choice then fell on Barcelona. The city obviously did not resist being the venue for this historic sporting event.

Mateu Hernández (General Director Turisme Barcelona, left) and Mateo Asensio (Head Promotion Turisme Barcelona) visit the Travelnews editorial team. Picture: TN

As Mateu Hernandez explains, New Zealand opted to host the America's Cup in New Zealand the year before last, which in hindsight proved to be a less than ideal decision, particularly in terms of TV times worldwide - Europeans, for example, had to watch the regattas at 3 a.m., which also reduced the global advertising impact of the event, after all, the America's Cup is supported by the top luxury brands, from Prada to Louis Vuitton.

No fear of overtourism

"Another very important aspect of the America's Cup is that teams and sponsors invite lots of guests. This also proved to be difficult in New Zealand, but Barcelona offers numerous advantages in this respect. Emirates Team New Zealand has now chosen our time zone, as well as our values. These include sustainability and that we are open to diversity. We will also be organizing a new sailing competition for women."

Barcelona is also ready in terms of infrastructure: the six teams' home venues are in Port Vell, the old harbor, which guarantees proximity to the public within walking distance of the City Center. Spectators can also watch the competitions from the beach.

When asked about the issue of overtourism, Travelnews also wanted to know from Mateu Hernández whether Barcelona is taking on too much with the America's Cup in view of the latent issue of too many tourists? Barcelona's tourism director disagrees: "If we're talking about 1.5 billion spectators, most of them will be sitting in front of the television, so there won't be huge additional crowds coming to Barcelona. What the America's Cup will bring with it, however, is above all many guests from the sponsors and teams, which will also offer Barcelona a high quality of visitors."

Barcelona is no longer concerned about overtourism because a visitor limit has been set and the number of hotels is no longer being expanded. "The only thing we are increasing is the quality of visitors."

The America's Cup Race Village is located in Barcelona's old harbor, Port Vell. Pictures: americascup.com