The region of Catalonia is suffering from the same slump.
Credit: Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

As turmoil grows over the recent independence vote in the region of Catalonia, the city of Barcelona has seen a sharp decline in tourism.

Flight reservations to Barcelona have dropped by 22 percent since the beginning of October, according to travel data analytics company ForwardKeys. Hotel reservations have also dropped, according to travel research firm STR, with occupancy dropping the most in the second half of the month.

“Domestic political unrest almost always deters visitors and that is what we are seeing now,” ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager said in a statement. “This will also have a knock-on to other parts of Spain because many visitors arriving in Catalonia will travel around the country.”

“If the political crisis worsens, I fear we will see a further decline in bookings,” he added.

Catalonia held the referendum on declaring independence from Spain on October 1. The vote was marked by violent clashes with police and reports of voter suppression. Confusion ensued in the government following a shaky declaration of independence a week later, followed by an official declaration last Friday.

Following the Catalan government's move to officially declare independence on Friday, the Spanish government used Article 155 of the Constitution to seize direct control of the region and oust its local leaders.

With protests from secessionists likely to continue, many tourists have shied away from Barcelona.

Tourism is one of the most important industries in Spain, accounting for approximately 11 percent of the nation’s GDP, the Associated Press reported.

Despite protests, travel industry experts said earlier this month that the region remained safe and welcoming to tourists.

“Most Catalonians are supportive of their tourist industry and so at this time I would advise that you should continue with your travel plans but maintain a continued assessment of the situation,” Frank Brehany, a travel consumer rights commentator, told the Independent.