TravelTek

Published on Monday, October 30, 2017

Catalonia crisis hits bookings to Spain



The political turmoil over Catalonia's declaration of independence has resulted in a 22% drop in bookings to the region and is likely to have a knock-on effect on bookings to the rest of Spain.


The warning comes from data analyst ForwardKeys, which helps forecast future travel by analysing millions of flight bookings each day.

ForwardKeys shows a drop in international air reservations for the Catalonia region of almost a quarter between October 1 and October 25 2017, compared to equivalent dates last year.


ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager said: "Domestic political unrest almost always deters visitors and that is what we are seeing now - a 22% collapse in international flight bookings for Catalonia. 

"This will also have a knock-on to other parts of Spain because many visitors arriving in Catalonia will travel around the country.

"If the political crisis worsens, I fear we will see a further decline in bookings. This trend will be of great concern because travel and tourism represents such a large proportion of the Spanish economy."

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the travel sector accounts for over 14% of GDP.


The Catalonia region, in the northeast of Spain, covers important tourist regions including the Costa Brava, Girona and Barcelona as well as the Pyrenees Mountains.

Catalonia's regional government organised an independence referendum earlier this month and violent scenes were broadcast across the world of heavy-handed authorities ceasing ballot boxes and stopping people from voting.


Not everyone in Catalonia wants independence and there have been several rallies in support of Spanish unity. The biggest was held yesterday (Sunday), in Catalonia's largest city, Barcelona.

Over the last few days, Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont has been removed from office and Catalonia has been stripped of its autonomy.

Spain's central government has now taken control of Catalan institutions and Puigdemont and other Catalan officials face criminal charges, which could lead to imprisonment.

Puigdemont has said he does not recognise the order from Madrid removing him from power.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has ordered fresh elections on December 21.


The Foreign Office has updated its advice to warn of 'large gatherings in Barcelona and other areas of Catalonia'.


The FCO added: "Further gatherings and demonstrations are very likely to take place in the coming days; they may occur with little or no warning and even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate and turn confrontational; you should exercise caution if you're in the vicinity.


"Demonstrations may also cause some disruption and delays to transport services."


 

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