Published on : Thursday, November 16, 2017
Barcelona is showing a lot of intolerance to tourists in the last few months with mass protests all over. Tensions over the future of the Catalonia region will dent a record year for Spain’s tourist industry.
Only days after the controversial vote for independence on October 1, the tourism ministry predicted that Spain can expect a record number of international visitors of more than 80m during 2017, up 6 per cent on 2016, with their spending exceeding €84bn ($98bn). But Catalonia hosted around a quarter of Spain’s visitors last year, and tourist activity in the region has fallen since the vote.
Hotel and transport reservations in Catalonia for the fourth quarter were down by around 20 per cent. That implied up to €1.2bn of lost business for a region where tourism employs around 405,000.
Yet, international visitors are expected to rise 7 per cent in the fourth quarter, the ministry says, and their spending by 10 per cent. Spain’s tourism industry has been steadily broadening out.
Councillor Agustí Colom, Barcelona’s tourism chief said that it is important to manage the industry so that it yields more benefits to the residents. The municipal council has banned construction of new city centre hotels and led a campaign against unlawful lettings to tourists. Tourism workers also need a pay rise, who are relatively poorly paid, and Mr Colom has redirected part of the city’s tourist tax receipts to neighbourhood improvement schemes.
According to the national statistical institute, Spain is indeed continuing to attract visitors from across Europe.