After a break of 10 years, the US has once more become the country that sends the most tourists to Barcelona (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Numbers fell off following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, prior to which tourists from the north American country had been the most prevalent in Barcelona, a position they have now taken once more, signficantly ahead of France, Italy and Great Britain. This year up to July, 340,497 Americans are recorded as visiting Barcelona, almost 30,000 more than those from France, which is the second biggest market so far in 2011. If these figures continue, the US is on course to set a new record for visitor numbers. Already in 2010, US tourists set a record with a million hotel nights registered and it seems that this year, this number will be exceeded. So far, there has been an increase of 18 percent in US visitors compared to last year, and in general Barcelona has enjoyed a very positive year in tourism terms - July and August saw an overall increase of 16.5 percent in tourists, and Barcelona is the European city that saw the biggest rise in tourist volume last month. In addition, according to figures from Turisme de Barcelona, spending with credit cards by tourists went up by 18 percent and nights spent in hotels by 11 percent.
Work being done to construct the new station at La Sagrera for the high-speed AVE train has uncovered the remains of what experts say appears to be a large Roman villa (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The building work on the station as well as its entrances and connections to other train lines is behind the discovery. Over 50 archaeologists have been working hard during the past few weeks to uncover the full extent of the remains, which were found close to an entrance to the 'Pont del Treball Digne' (Bridge of Dignified Work), which is half-built and was due to replace a temporary bridge in just a few months. While it isn't the centre of the AVE work being undertaken, the discovery is having an impact on certain key parts of the construction work on station entrances, which is now being done with floodlights to try and catch up on lost time. Although the tunnel connecting La Sagrera with Sants-Estació is now complete and it is forecast that trains will start passing through it from next year, they will not stop at Sagrera as the station there is not due to be completed for a few years. A surprise announcement was made a few months ago by the Spanish minister for public works, José Blanco, about opening a provisional station at La Sagrera but nothing further has been heard about the matter.
Unemployment in Catalunya and Spain grew last month, following four consecutive months of decreases in the number of people looking for work (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). Last month, according to the Spanish Work Ministry, 584,648 people were registered as unemploymed in Catalunya, which means an increase of 13,779, or 2.41 percent, compared to July. However, this is a smaller increase than that registered in August 2010, when it went up by more than 16,000 people, and 3.10 percent compared to the previous month. In Spain overall, the number of unemployed rose by 51,185 last month, which represents an increase of 1.25 percent compared to July. This means that in Spain there are now 4,130,927 people looking for work. Again, though, it was a relatively low increase for August, the lowest in Spain since 2006. So far in the past year, unemployment in Spain has risen by 161,266 people, which represents an increase of 4.06 percent.