Demonstrators holding banners that read in Catalan: “Freedom for the Political Prisoners”, gather during a protest against the decision of a judge to jail ex-members of the Catalan government at the University square in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. Manu Fernandez / Associated Press
Visitor trips to Catalonia took a hit as the Spanish region’s separatist movement came to a head.
While all major holiday destinations in Spain saw a jump in visits in October from a year earlier, the Catalonia region posted a 4.7 percent decline following a turbulent month. The region was rocked by a eferendum for independence from Spain on Oct. 1 that resulted in police violence and mass demonstrations culminating in an ill-fated declaration of independence.
The move prompted the central government of Mariano Rajoy to sack the Catalan cabinet, take direct control of the wealthy region and call an election due next month. Meanwhile, industry figures show revenue per available room — a key indicator of occupancy and rates — also fell in October. An industry official said the disruptions added to other difficulties.
The hospitality industry has had a rough patch. Over the summer, local critics of massive tourism argued that Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city, was being overwhelmed. The Catalan capital became the target of a deadly terror attack in September. Despite the setbacks, Catalonia remains the most popular Spanish region for foreign tourists who come for its rich offerings in culture, monuments, architecture and Mediterranean coastline.
While the nation is on track to extend a four-year economic recovery with at least 3 percent growth this year, the Spanish government has warned the Catalan crisis could hurt output in 2018 if downside risks materialize.
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