As air travel to the Catalonia region and Barcelona falls, Spain is preparing measures to impose direct rule on the area.
According to ForwardKeys data cited by CNN Money, international flight bookings have fallen 17 percent year over year since the October 1 independence referendum.
“Domestic political unrest almost always damages inbound tourism and that is what we are seeing,” ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager told CNN Money.
The October 1 referendum erupted into violence when a police crackdown on the voting injured 844 people, according to the Catalan government. The move prompted widespread condemnation of the police’s tactics to stop the vote, which the Catalan authorities had called despite it being ruled illegal by the courts.
“Turisme de Barcelona wholeheartedly condemns the scenes of violence that took place in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia on the occasion of the referendum,” the city’s official tourism bureau wrote at the time. “The acts that affected the civic spirit on the day of the election are unacceptable in a democratic and advanced society in the European Union.”
Reuters reports that Catalonian officials are confident all local authorities, including police, would defy attempts by the central government to enforce direct rule on the region.
“It’s not that we will refuse (orders). It is not a personal decision. It is a seven million-person decision,” Catalonia’s foreign affairs chief, Raul Romeva, told BBC radio, according to Reuters. “And from that perspective, I have no doubt that all civil servants in Catalonia will keep following the instructions provided by the elected and legitimate institutions that we have right no in place (in Catalonia).”
Separately, the BBC reported that a senior official in the Catalan government said that local authorities will not follow orders from the Spanish government if it moves to assert control. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had announced the measures over the weekend, and the Catalan parliament is set to meet Thursday to decide on a response.