For two years, Barcelona Provincial Council's Tourist Office, through its Tourism Laboratory (http://www.diba.cat/turismelocal/laboratori.asp), has been carrying out profiling studies of tourists visiting the province's tourism destinations. So far, these studies have been focused on the most popular tourist areas along the coast (Sitges, Calella, Santa Susanna, Malgrat de Mar, Vilanova i la Geltrú, etc.). However, recent events have enabled this kind of study to be done in other inland areas, such as Vic (Fira del Ram) and Manresa (Fira Mediterrània).
The main aim of this study, carried out with the collaboration of Manresa town council, was to build a picture of what kind of people (both tourists and day trippers) visited the town during Fira Mediterrània (6 and 7 November 2010) and compare it to a weekend during which no events were taking place (15 and 16 January 2011). Broadly speaking, the study describes visitor types, where they come from, their opinions on the town and its tourist information services, hotel occupancy rates and their impact on the region, transport methods used, Fira's role in visitors' decisions to visit Manresa and spending per visitor.
The study was carried out by survey professionals situated at various points in the centre of town over the two weekends on which interviews took place. Around 3,000 contacts were made, from which a sample of 515 usable survey forms were obtained (300 during Fira and 215 during the weekend in January). The sample shows that 24% of people interviewed during Fira were visitors or tourists (12% of interviewees during the January 2011 weekend).
It should be mentioned that during Fira, accommodation in the town recorded 100% occupancy rate (including professional visitors) and over the weekend of 15-16 January 2011, occupancy rates reached an average of 30%.
The main results of the study are as follows:
• Fira generated full tourist occupancy rates. Unlike a "normal" weekend, during the Fira weekend, Manresa converted a large number of day trippers into overnight visitors (11% of visitors to Fira).
• Over the Fira weekend, the event was the main reason 3/4 of people interviewed visited Manresa (leisure visitors). Over the January weekend, interviewees' reasons for visiting Manresa were spread between leisure (55%), shopping and trade (26%).
• What people liked most about Manresa was its shops and the busy atmosphere, especially in the town's Passeig and Old Quarter areas. This overall view was held by 3/4 of the visitors and tourists interviewed.
• During the Fira weekend, visitors gave Manresa 7.8 out of 10, with a total of 7.5 out of 10 being awarded over the "normal" January weekend. A slight improvement in score for the destination can be seen over the Fira weekend compared to the "normal" weekend.
• If this score is analysed by tourism sub-sectors, the study suggests that shops received the highest score from visitors and tourists in Manresa (7.7 out of 10), followed by bars and restaurants (7.3 out of 10), nightlife (6.7 out of 10) and cultural attractions (6.7 out of 10). The lowest score was awarded for accommodation. Very similar results were obtained for both weekends analysed.
• Half the visitors to Manresa during the Fira weekend were from the local Bages region (53%) and 40% of the rest were from Barcelona province.
• Private car was by far the most widely used method of transport (94% in the case of visitors during the Fira weekend and 86% over the "normal" January weekend).
• Visitor spending figures (for leisure) per day, not counting transport and parking costs, were around €25 during the Fira weekend and €28 during the "normal" January weekend. There are several reasons for this:
o During the Fira weekend, the main motivation of "Shopping and/or Trade" did not rate so highly with interviewees as over the "normal" weekend, when shopping was their main reason for visiting the town.
o During Fira a large segment of visitors spent between €10 and €30, with very few spending less than €10 or more than €50. However, the spending habits of visitors during the "normal" weekend showed a much greater spread between the segment who spent more than €50 and the segment who spent less than €10.
• The importance of trade and shopping is much greater if visitor spending by activity sub-sector is analysed. During the Fira weekend, bars and restaurants accounted for 2/3 of spending. During the "normal" weekend, spending was more or less equally spread between bars and restaurants and trade.
• Over the Fira weekend, tourists said they had seen an average of 3 shows (4 in the case of professional visitors).
Using data gathered and a rigorous field study technique, the Tourism Laboratory study carried out in Manresa serves to identify the town's main strengths and weaknesses in terms of its tourism provision. The study clearly identifies the economic impact of Fira Mediterrània on the town, compared to what happens during a "normal" weekend. These results provide the Town Council and the Tourism Office with very valuable information on which to base improvements to Manresa's tourism provision.
article submitted by:Laia Valls, Fira Mediterrània de Manresa (Catalonia / Spain)