Traders, tourism and employers’ sector warn of the serious economic repercussions that the protests registered in Catalonia will have this week, and especially in Barcelona. The photographs of riot police in action, of hooded men in the middle of the urban war and cars on fire are going to be a letter of introduction of the city that will last in the retina of viewers around the world. And those who have aired on social networks their experiences will not feel like coming back. The head of a hotel in Paseo de Gràcia who prefers not to give his name ensures that customers “have been horrified” and that there were even some who “left the hotel with their bags in the middle of the night.” He describes as “drama” the situation of the staff, unable to calm the guests. “And the worst is yet to come, it will be dramatic for the city of Barcelona.” But nobody wants to talk about cancellations officially, contracting firms prepare for the worst.
He is not the only one to fear that the impact on tourism may be slower than expected. An executive of an emblematic commercial firm acknowledges that although the already scheduled trips will hardly be canceled, the impact next summer is almost taken for granted and the debacle of proximity tourism will be noticed already this weekend. And tourism accounts for 80% of customers on the Paseo de Gràcia and Plaza de Catalunya. Professional congresses, such as cardiologists this weekend, may consider whether it is worth returning in future editions.
For the merchants in the center of Barcelona, the riots have had a dramatic effect. The president of the Associació del Passeig de Gràcia, Lluís Sans, has already recognized that “the dissemination of these terrible images throughout the world will damage Barcelona’s reputation as a dialoguing and peaceful city, and will have negative effects on tourism.”
The Consell de Gremis, which groups the unions and represents the sectors of commerce, tourism and services, on Thursday asked the public and the public representatives for responsibility for the registered disturbances. In a statement, the Consell de Gremis has stressed that the economic fabric has to continue working and that the image of Catalonia abroad must convey “the mature and open society we are”.
The Retailcat association, which integrates some 40,000 commercial establishments throughout Catalonia, has also joined the condemnation of incivism and has demanded from politicians “professionalism, sense of responsibility and high level of sight”.
On the general strike called by independentistas unions for Friday morning, Retailcat considers that a call is not the solution to the political conflict. In small businesses in the neighborhoods, the general strike will impact sales but in principle they will open their doors and the revenue cut will be moderated. Mercabarna foresees that they will open 95% of wholesale companies, but little activity is expected.
The Bon Preu supermarket chain announced the lockout in support of the mobilization objectives. There will be no commercial or labor activity, and the firm’s 8,000 workers will have paid leave. The management of Bon Preu said that the closure is “a considerable effort for the company,” although he believes that “the moment is exceptional and deserves it.”
The call for a general strike in Catalonia has led to the cancellation of the scale of a cruise ship in the Port of Tarragona. The captain of ‘Mariella Discovery II’ has decided to change the itinerary due to fear of passage problems on scheduled excursions. The cruise offered three excursions: one to Camp Nou, another to Port Aventura and a third to explore the city.
In the large shopping centers and stores of the center of Barcelona, the week will be settled with a monthly sales cut of 20%, according to some estimates of the hotel sector.
The leader of the latest mobilizations of the taxi sector, Alberto Álvarez, said that “after what has been suffered by taxi drivers we have shown that we can assume losses, which in some cases can reach 20% of monthly income. The latest protests have affected especially to the nighttime activity of the taxi. ” A Barcelona taxi driver calculated this Thursday that he has stopped entering at least 700 euros this week.
The Hotel Guild of Barcelona warned of the danger that incidents pose to the “reputation” of the city. The Association of Tourist Apartments (Apartur) also warned of the effects that lie ahead, while the Corporate Association of Specialized Travel Agencies (Acave) also regretted that this type of protests “maintained over time” will mean serious prejudices to the tourism sector. From the Restoration Guild of Barcelona they also pointed to a drop in income, after several negative seasons for restaurants and bars.