Barcelona Travel Falls; Spain Could Impose Direct Rule

Anti-independence demonstrators waving Spanish flags march blocking main Diagonal avenue during a protest in Barcelona.
Photo by AP Photo/Francisco Seco via Newscred

Air travel to Barcelona is down as the crisis over Catalonia’s independence push continues.

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.”

According to the BBC, the government of Spain will hold regional elections in Catalonia in January as part of a package of measures being put in place to suspend the region’s autonomy, according to Spain’s socialist party. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to announce measures to impose direct rule after a Saturday cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister’s party has not confirmed the plans for the elections.

Following the referendum, several airlines, including American Airlines and Air Canada, announced flight waivers for customers wishing to rebook, although those have since lapsed.

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