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Barcelona: what lies in store for tourism after the municipal elections?

Tourism is doing well in Barcelona in terms of both business and leisure activity. Hotel performances are up according to the latest figures from MKG Hospitality. An yet the potential victory of Ada Colau at the municipal elections could have negative repercussions on tourism.

While Barcelona's residents continue to unite in celebration of the victory of the Blaugrana players who have just been consecrated champions of European football, the festivites are likely to soon give way to a more serious atmosphere. In fact, the second round of  municipal elections wil be held on Saturday, revealing the new face of the city's mayor. The spokesperson for the left wing, backed by "Podemos" and anti-eviction campaigner, Ada Colau, could thus win the election, thus realizing her project to regulate the number of tourists in the city: "The situation is out of control in the places most frequented by tourists. There needs to be a moratorium on the new hotels and tourist accommodations, a census and implementation of  preventive measures to avoid the kind of mess that took place at Ciutat Vella. We have already experienced a real estate bubble. We must avoid a tourism bubble," she declared to the Spanish press. 

Tourisme, an economic pillar that is growing stronger

A a leisure and business destination, Barcelona posted good results  last year. City Halls ended the year with a  Revenue per available room (RevPAR) up 2.4% over the previous year, acording to data published by MKG Hospitality. This growth was made possible despite an increase in the city's inventory. The branded supply did  in fact grow by 0.9% in 2014, to reach 227 units and 29,125 rooms on January 1, 2015. [Learn more]

El Prat airport, meanwhile handled over 37.5 million passengers in 2014, for a 6.7% increase over the previous exercice. In 2014, Barcelona lost a position in the ICCA ranking and that despite an in the number of important international conventions. Ranking fourth with 178 events organized in 2013, it is now fifth with 182.

In 2015, after a difficult start, the Catalan city maintained its good levels of results at its hotels in the first four months of the year. Between January and April, the RevPAR progressed by 5.8% with respect to the same period last year, thanks to a 1.5 point improvement in the occupancy rate and 3.4% improvement inaverage daily rate. It is important to observe that of the 16 million tourists that have traveled to Spain durign the period, nearly one quarter visited the city of Barcelona.

Regulated tourism?

Regulating touristarrivals is one of the controversial projects of Ada Colau, Barcelona's candidate for Mayor. In the press, she denounces tourism that is out of control and deplores too high a volume of hotels and apartments beig rented in the center of town. "We have already had a real estate bubble, we would like to avoid a tourism bubble," she declared to El Pais. She hopes to convert unoccupied apartments owned by banks and investment funds into social housing. She also plans to put a moratorium on the hotel supply and is likely to take a stand against the Airbnb phenomenon.

Sector professionals dusay they are worried about the consequences of such measures on the city's tourist industry. On to the next elections...

Also read:

  • Stronger presence for Barcelo in Barcelona
  • Spain reports new record arrivals in 2014

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