Published on : Saturday, October 28, 2017
With images of police violence and scores of people on streets protesting for and against its controversial independence referendum, the general notion about Catalonia’s tourism is one of uncertainty and trouble.
Despite the political instability, Mr. David Miro, the Asia-Pacific director of the Catalan Tourist Board, assured there is “nothing major to be worried about” and “it’s not as bad as it looks” because “all tourism infrastructure and services are functioning as per normal and are not affecting tourists”.
One of the wealthiest and most-visited regions in Spain, Catalonia’s planned independence push was to be held on Oct 1, but was opposed by the Spanish government.
Tourism to Catalonia – which has its own language, laws and customs and includes capital Barcelona and the beaches of Costa Brava – slumped by 15 per cent in the two weeks following the referendum violence.
But Mr. Miro stressed that tourism has improved and there has been no decrease in international tourist arrivals so far.
He said: “I would be concerned if the numbers dropped, but international tourism hasn’t dropped in Catalonia. It keeps growing and growing.”
Mr. Jaume Marin, marketing and promotional director for Costa Brava Girona Tourist Board, added that it is “100 per cent safe for Singaporeans” to travel to Catalonia, and in particular, Costa Brava. This year alone, Costa Brava attracted over 4.3 million tourists, a 7 to 8 per cent increase from last year.
Flight bookings returned to the same level as before with “no major cancellations” from all major airlines.
Mr. Miro added, “Tourists are resilient. (Terror attacks) can happen anywhere, even in a safe paradise like Singapore… No matter what happens (with the general political situation), Catalonia sells very well with other regions in Spain.”
According to Mr. Miro, Singaporeans are a “tiny but very meaningful market”, as they spend three to six times more than the average international tourist in Catalonia”.