Jordi Clos, president of the Barcelona Hotels’ Association, has likened the present situation to “a cold which needs curing before it becomes pheumonia”.
Hotel groups are horrified that the turnover of hotels in the city fell by a huge 20 per cent during August, with the luxury establishments being the worse hit.
They are blaming incidents of so-called “tourismphobia” and the negative international publicity caused by various attacks and demonstrations, including holiday coaches being held up by protesters.
The Hotels’ Association says other factors are to blame as well, such as the surge in illegal lettings, posters and graffiti mocking Brits who are injured or killed whilst “balconing”, warnings about possible terrorist attacks, dirt on the streets and “an increase in uncivil attitudes on the streets”.
Barcelona also recently plunged from eighth to 15th in the league table of the 56 most valued cities in the world.
Figures released by the hotel association for July and August show drops in all categories.
In July, occupation was down 0.7 per cent to 91 per cent, the average room price was 150 euros (a drop of seven per cent) and income was minus 7.3 per cent.
Occupation in August was 88 per cent (down one per cent) and the average room price saw a major fall of 19 per cent to 135 euros. Income therefore dropped 20 per cent.
During July and August, the average loss of turnover was 14 per cent, with the luxury categories being particularly affected, with a fall of 18.5 per cent.
The figures for January to August are: occupation: 81.5 per cent (-2.5 per cent), average room price: 134.7 euros (-7.3 per cent), turnover: -9.6 per cent.
Mr Clos told Hosteltur.com that Barcelona’s reputaton was taking a severe knock and it was time to totally rebrand the city. An official plea has already been made to Barcelona city council whose Mayor, Ada Colau also came under fire for “negative positioning”.
The hotel association says attacks associated with mass tourism had led to international headlines such as “How tourism is killing Barcelona” and had spread as far afield as New Zealand.
Continued warning about possible insecurity in Barcelona, not just from the UK but from the United States, Germany and Canada, were also having a negative impact, as were airport strikes and the tourist attacks of a year ago, together with new campaigns.
In July, two members of the youth organisation Arran stormed a tourist coach when it stopped outside the Olympic village and hung a huge sign saying: “Stop mass tourism in the Catalan countries.”
This echoed a similar incident last summer when masked protesters held up two more buses, frightening holidaymakers so much that they thought it was a terrorist attack. Tyres of tourist rental bikes were also slashed last summer, a hotel reception was stormed and extensive damage caused, other holiday coaches were pelted with eggs and locks of businesses linked to tourism were superglued.
Arran has already signalled more protests this summer, having already chained themselves to a famous Gaudi sculpture in Barcelona.
Mr Clos told Hosteltur.com: “You do not have to invent anything, all you have to do is manage the city well with a strategy and a clear and ambitious project, imposing a change of criteria with respect to the tourism and leisure sectors. Barcelona has to generate a high quality offer, trying not to increase the low-level tourist offer.”
The association also wants ten per cent of the proceeds of the tourist tax to go towards rebranding Barcelona.