While agents are largely reporting clients are not canceling
trips to Spain following Catalonia's vote to secede from the country, some
customers are inquiring about the situation, and some agents predicted tourism will
take a hit.
Travel data analytics company ForwardKeys says tourism
already is down, saying last week that international air reservations for
Catalonia had fallen 22% since the beginning of October.
Michelle Weller, vice president of sales at a Travel Leaders
agency in Houston, said no one has canceled or "raised a big, red
flag." The agency has a group of 25 headed to Barcelona this month, but
they don't plan to cancel or change their itinerary.
Weller said she feels it's safe to travel to Catalonia, and
while she will inform clients about the political situation, she wouldn't
recommend they avoid traveling there.
"Safety is our top priority and it's our job to make
sure that the travelers are informed, so we'll discuss it with them and make
sure they have travel insurance," she said.
Haisley Smith, vice president of marketing and development
at Birmingham, Ala.-based Brownell Travel, said clients have not changed their
"We had a couple of phone calls from travelers saying, 'Are
you watching the news? Is this going to be OK? Are we going to be safe?' We can't
make anybody feel safe or unsafe, that's not our role as advisors," she
said. "Our role is to present the facts as we know them. But we've not
seen any really discernable shift in anybody's attitudes toward Spain."
Allison Collier, an Andavo Travel affiliate in Birmingham,
Ala., believes travel to Catalonia and Barcelona will be affected, especially
among very cautious travelers.
"It's all relative to the client and their comfort
level with the unknown," she said. It comes down to, "What is your
Instead of risking trip interruptions in Catalonia, Collier
predicted some travelers would avoid the region or pick another country
Andavo affiliate Diane Bean, owner of Off On Vacation in
Bangor, Maine, agreed.
"They hear about it and they see it on TV," she
said, which leads clients to believe the situation is bad and they should avoid
traveling to Spain.
Craig Mungary, owner of Elite Global Journeys in Fresno,
Calif., said his agency typically suggests Spain but that doing so now is a
risky move. Suggesting a country in political turmoil risks a client backing
off from traveling, he said.
"To take the path of least resistance, so to speak, I
think you're going to see a drop-off in the suggestion," he said.
But if a client asked to travel to Spain, Mungary said he would
not hesitate to book the trip.
"For those who are interested, I still think that it's a
safe destination," he said.