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Tourism statistics for September this year refute the alarmist rhetoric from the Spanish government and pro-union parties over the Catalan economy. The independence movement and August's terrorist attacks haven't slowed down the sector's good performance in Catalonia which ended September with a historical record of overnight stays.

According to the latest report from INE (National Statistics Institute), nights in hotels in Catalonia reached 6.66 million, a 3.3% increase on September last year. This contradicts the alarmism from prime minister Rajoy's party who, in recent days, in the middle of a wave of companies leaving Catalonia, have indicated a fall in the Catalan economy, particularly in tourism. Last Tuesday, the Spanish government reduced the predicted GDP growth figures for the whole of Spain on the premise that it would be a consequence of the political situation in Catalonia.

Today's figures also contradict the predictions given by EXCELTUR (Alliance for Excellency in Tourism) last week, which suggested that the political situation had caused a 1.2 billion euro fall in the sector. In the face of these expectations, Catalonia has achieved a record number of overnight stays in September. In fact, the growth seen in Catalan tourism (3.3%) is substantially higher than that seen in Spain as a whole (2.2%).

More foreign tourists

Catalonia is the second-favourite destination in the country for Spaniards, behind Andalucia, and third-favourite for foreigners, behind the Balearic and Canary Islands. Specifically, the increase in tourism comes from the growth in overnight stays by non-residents, 4.3% in a single year. Currently, one in every five hotel reservations by foreigners in Spain (18.9%) is in Catalonia.

The sector's good performance is also seen in the statistics for hotel occupancy for September: seven of every ten beds (69.3%) were taken, which placed Catalonia fourth in Spain, only behind Valencia and the Canary and Balearic Islands. For its part, Barcelona has again been one of the most popular destinations with more than 725,000 tourists and 1.87 nights in hotels seen in just a month.