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Barcelona’s bachelor party hangover

The Catalan capital is a hot-spot for the raucous parties of brides- and grooms-to-be but the city says it is not the kind of tourism it wants to attract

Javier Sánchez spent last Saturday night managing 20 bachelor parties at his two restaurants in Port Olímpic in Barcelona. Almost half of the guests were foreigners. In the restaurant La Fonda, three groups of French women had traveled to Spain to be with the brides-to-be before their wedding day.

Barcelona is one of Europe’s top destinations for bachelor parties. While there are no official statistics about how much business they generate, Roberto Torregrosa, the president of the Catalan Association for Tourism Professionals (ACPT) says it is “a growing form of tourism.” But a spokesperson for Barcelona Tourism says the city doesn’t want the business. “We promote [Barcelona] as a wedding destination, ceremonies contribute a lot, but not bachelor parties. Quite the opposite. We avoid them because we don’t believe it is the quality tourism that Barcelona needs.”

We avoid bachelor parties because we don’t believe it is the quality tourism that Barcelona needs

Barcelona Tourism spokesperson

At the Barcelona Town Hall Committee on Economy and Finance, both the municipal government and the opposition criticized bachelor parties. The Ciudadanos councilor Francisco Sierro put it this way: “The people who come for a bachelor party arrive first thing in the morning, get drunk, behave uncivilly and return on the first flight the next day.” Torregrosa however says that this is not the case for all such parties. According to ACPT, many spend two or three days enjoying “parties and cultural and gastronomic tourism.” Torregrosa explains that women tend to do more tourism while men just “look to party.”

Port Olímpic is a major hot-spot for bachelor parties in Barcelona. Sánchez says he can’t meet the demand and prefers to prioritize small gatherings to avoid possible problems. Marian Lorcy led a group of seven friends from Paris to celebrate a friend’s upcoming wedding. She chose Barcelona because of its proximity, good weather and buzzing nightlife. The friends spent an average of €1,000 each on the trip.

They get drunk, behave uncivilly and return on the first flight the next day

Barcelona city councilor Francisco Sierra

Lorcy and her friends arrived Friday evening and went straight to the dance floor. On Saturday, they attended a cocktail workshop, dined at La Fonda and then went out dancing again. On Sunday, they had a massage and spa treatment and on Monday, before returning home, the group enjoyed a barbecue and took part in a scavengers hunt game. According to February data from the Catalan Institute of Statistics, the average tourist spends €1,067 on a visit to Catalonia.

Parties at sea

Boat parties are one of the most popular venues for a bachelor party. Pedro Jornet, the manager of The Sensation, a company that organizes tourists outings in catamarans in Barcelona and Lloret de Mar, is upset by how his services are portrayed by the media. He says that The Sensation limits alcohol consumption and that captains are instructed not to accept drinks. Most of his clients are foreigners, typically from the UK and France.

According to manager Francisco Garrido, foreigners also make up around 15% of business at Limobus, a company that lets passengers drink and dance within a large limousine. Sophie Noakes from Off Limits, one of Britain’s largest event companies, confirms that Barcelona is one of the agencies top-five destinations.

Strippers

Strippers are a common part of most bachelor parties. Jornet says they are not allowed on The Sensation but Garrido explains that groups of both men and women regularly hire strippers. The travel agency Barcelona Adventus Travel organizes private stripteases for up to €275 per person, while the British agency The Stag Company hosts poker games with naked women. In France, the agency Crazy Voyages offers a 15-minute striptease for €24 and charges €109 for dinner and a porn screening.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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