Barcelona tourism 'recovered' from La Rambla attacks
One year after terrorist incident, several officials believe "people have continued coming with confidence" despite early impact on sector
Tourism in Barcelona and Catalonia shows no long-term damage from the terrorist attack that struck La Rambla boulevard in the Catalan capital exactly a year ago, on August 17, 2017. That is what officials in the areas of politics and tourism told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) ahead of the first anniversary of the tragic events.
"People have continued coming with total confidence and stability," said the head of a travel agents’ association.
Tourism drop due to terrorism or political turmoil?
Official figures say tourism activity went up in September 2017, compared to 12 months earlier (6.1%), but then dropped in October (4.6%), November (2.3%) and December (13.9%). In the first half of 2018, foreign visitors dropped by 0.8%.
While officials acknowledge an impact in the aftermath of the attacks, they also say it is difficult to know if the drop was due to the terrorist incidents or the political turmoil that followed last autumn.
"The tourism sector was affected, we had three or four days with significant drops in tourism," says Manel Casals, the director general of the main association representing Barcelona’s hotels. "A lot has happened since then. At the end of 2017 we went through a complicated socio-political situation and even today we are still perceiving the effects of both."
"It's hard to believe that anyone coming to Barcelona today might think that on August 17 last year there was a terrorist attack on La Rambla"
Manel Casals · Director general of the main association representing Barcelona's hotels
"Recovery has not been absolute, but overall it has been good," says Casals, who adds: "It's hard to believe that anyone coming to Barcelona today might think that on August 17 last year there was a terrorist attack on La Rambla."
Action by emergency services "strengthened Barcelona brand"
Casals also claims that the "solidarity and efficiency" of the country’s emergency services helped "strengthen the Barcelona brand abroad."
Catalan Business minister, Àngels Chacón, has expressed similar views, saying it is clear that in the aftermath of the attacks the country was affected emotionally, along with the effects on the tourism sector. The minister also claimed that the "excellent job" done by firefighters, Catalan police and other emergency services helped reinforce Barcelona's image.
"In the first few days it had an impact, because these images reached the whole world," claims Martí Sarrate, president of a travel agents’ association, who adds: "But it later recovered and what people valued was the power of reaction shown by the public, social organisations, the health sector… Three days later La Rambla was open again."
The speed with which the iconic boulevard and the city as a whole got back to normal was also pointed out as a key for Barcelona "recovering a steady hand much more quickly and easily than other cities," according to the councilor for tourism in the Catalan capital, Àngel Colom.