Published on : Thursday, December 7, 2017
Industry lobby group Exceltur said on Tuesday that hotel reservations in Barcelona were down by 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same time last year due to Catalonia’s separatist crisis, which could lead to job losses in the sector.
If the trend continues “tourism companies may have to start adjusting the number of their employees to adapt to lower demands,” Exceltur — which comprises Spain’s major hotel chains and tour operators — said in a statement.
Hotels expect they would have to reduce their staff by an average of 8.2 per cent while car rental firms predict they would shrink their payrolls by about five per cent, it added.
The tourism sector employs some 400,000 people in Catalonia, many of them on temporary contracts.
Hotel reservations in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia and one of Europe’s most visited cities, for the Christmas and New Year’s period are down by 15 per cent compared to last year.
The tourism impact of the crisis, sparked by Catalonia’s banned independence referendum on October 1 which was marred by violence, was concentrated almost exclusively in Barcelona.
Just before the referendum several countries, including Germany, France and the United States, warned their citizens to be careful if they travelled to Catalonia and airlines allowed passengers on flights to Barcelona to change their tickets.
Protests have declined since Spain’s central government on October 27 suspended Catalonia’s regional government, dismissed its government and called regional elections for December 21 after the Catalan parliament declared independence.
Tourism activity in Barcelona fell by nine per cent in November, compared to 11 per cent in October, as the return to calm eased visitor’s fears, according to Exceltur.
The number of foreign visitors to Catalonia fell by 4.7 per cent in October over the same period last year, figures released by the national statistics institute last week stated.