Marta Teixidor, director of the Tourism Institute of Catalonia in Italy assures eTN:”The tourism sector is strong and our region continues to attract tourists from all over the world”
Despite this well-meant assurance, Catalonia is starting to feel the effects of tensions on tourism linked to the ambition of the region for independence from Spain. Tourists simply think twice before booking a popular city escape to Catalonia’s capital city Barcelona. Many don’t feel welcome, others don’t feel safe.
Signs of a slowdown in tourism growth for Catalonia show a drop in hotel bookings for the last month. Security warnings launched by the UK and US and ongoing strikes of transports options makes Catalonia a less desired travel destination.
In the first two weeks of October online bookings decreased by 27% compared to last year.
According to Marta Teixidor, since July, tourism in Catalonia has stopped growing for the first time in years: “Campaigns against over-tourism, the bombing in Barcelona and the political crisis linked to independence have certainly influenced the choice of tourists. The decline is, in fact, proportional to the various markets of origin, both Asia and Europe. ”
Until July, growth was 7% compared to 2016, the trend stalled in August and is now struggling to recover. “In August we recorded 29% less compared to the same month last year, but we have not yet given any data as for September yet,” emphasizes the Teixidor. Despite this, in Barcelona and throughout Catalonia, services have always been normal and museums, ports, subways, transport, shops, hotels and airports have always had normal operation. ”
Uncertainty over the last few weeks is worrying the travel industry at all levels. Víctor Martí, CEO of Horwath Htl Spain, confided to the Spanish magazine Hosteltur that the markets are very sensitive to recent events and investments have been languishing slow in recent months. MICE tourism and conferences are also the ones that recorded the most cancellations in recent days.
“The perception of insecurity is one that worries the Asian market and this has seen the most noticeable drops. We must go back investing in promotion and inform operators and customers about the regularity and security of all activities,” concludes Martí.
The eco-tourism director in Italy said: “Italian tourists continue to arrive, especially on cruises, but we still want to tell everyone that Catalonia is ready to welcome all travellers in every destination in absolute serenity. We remain famous as a friendly destination, with excellent infrastructure, a great gastronomy, and so much culture. ”
For 2018 – a year of cultural tourism – Catalonia is ready to invest even more on the Italian market with the goal of overcoming the number of last year (1 million and 200 thousand tourists from Italy) “But with pride I can say that the attractions, connections, services and choice of tourists around the world are growing in Barcelona and throughout Catalonia,” concluded Teixidor